A New Week Replaces the Past

This week is yet to happen and last week has gone completely. Life unfolds day by day and week by week and how we fill this space we call life or time or the actual space itself matters. I talked to an archaeologist today who asked me many sincere and healthy questions about how my life works. I told her that it was both simple and complex but it was one I engineered as best I could and despite invasions constantly from people I invite into my workshop via the opening of my door each day, I like what I do. DSC_0036 A rope barrier hangs between me and the visitors and in general I can control my engagement with people by looking up and smiling, smiling and getting on with my work or just plain keeping my head down and working. I can close the door if I choose to but mostly choose not to. I want to share my life with people most of the time, but I confess sometimes enjoying not talking and looking around but just engaging with my work. DSC_0099 I suppose I might consider myself selfish were I to close the door on the world. Where else would people see someone working with their hands and be able to stand in an entryway hearing sounds they never heard before and smelling wood they never smelt before?Where else would they watch a man make a dovetail joint on a drawer being made or a plane swipe off the name of a child from a piece of pine to become a wristlet? You see, my life is unique. So unique is my life I actually don’t know a working man in my region who leaves the door open for visitors to stand inside his shop, ask questions and things like that. CB12 Being a married, family man, I like to see families come in and spend a little time here. I like seeing the children’s faces and hear their questions and the answers the parents give, whether they are right or wrong. If I kept the door open and the router running (if I had one) and the tablesaw (if I had one) or the chopsaw (if I had one), how would that happen. I said it before and I will say it again, machines seem to create an insurmountable barrier between children coming into the workshop. I am sad sometimes when I wonder if my craft will actually die before they hear sounds I hear all day long, but then I nudge myself and say keep pressing. I know one thing for certain. The art and craft of woodworking will not come to children through the doors of a machine shop and woodcraft and the art of craftsmanship will be continued through the lives of those working wood using hand methods and that’s what keeps my doors open wide and the children standing there asking me wonderful questions.

8 Comments

  1. Thomas Tieffenbacher on 26 August 2014 at 2:43 am

    Paul,

    I think the hands on approach that you are using is great. There are a number of parents and grand parents on another site that I belong to who are taking the time to interest young children on woodworking projects.

    There is a problem that is faced today with insurance and suing people. When I took time to teach a young man how to use tools to improve his confidence and expose him to something outside of “Gaming” I had the mom sign a release and understanding just in case something accidental happened.

    The other thing I suggest to parents who want their child to learn hands on skills is “meet the child at the child’s level.” Grandparents often have more time to do this.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Bradley Bingham on 26 August 2014 at 5:17 am

    Thanks Paul for being so kind to the little ones. They may be the continuing of your legacy

  3. Gordon Clark on 26 August 2014 at 5:22 am

    Paul:

    I love this blog post! You’re a lucky man to have built your career as you have filled with producing, teaching and sharing yourself locally and to the world.

    Gordon Clark, Vancouver

    • Terry Pullen on 26 August 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Possibly you meant to say fortunate rather than “lucky”. Fifty years and tons of sweat indicates a lot more fortitude then luck.
      Luck seems to say that he had no part in becoming who he is where as fortune indicates that his plans worked out as he thought they would.
      Please understand that I don’t mean to be upsetting, I did appreciate your post.

      • Paul Sellers on 26 August 2014 at 6:42 pm

        I think my message might be made clearer, especially to those younger, the ones I think could be helped more. It is my view that success is generally acknowledged by how much money is in your bank account and how much people make in a year. It’s generally espoused and accepted that a good job is one that gives you the highest pay or the most secure employment or both if possible. I don’t think many people would advise someone to plan a future concept and map a way to achieve much outside of being in employment of some other entity. School and education is always geared towards people leaving one sphere and entering another and of course where better to gain the experience you might need to become a valuable and productive member of society? I would advise anyone to get a job based on giving them the training and skills they need according a planned future. In my case it was woodworking as a broad-based craft and then taking progressive steps into bench joinery, site carpentry, shop fitting and architectural millwork and at 25 years old deciding my future lay in making furniture. I mapped this out and at 25 became self employed part time. At 35 I was full-time self employed with two years work ahead of me and a good hourly income became the byproduct of my intent. I began to realise that making decisions for my future meant choosing things I wanted as parts of my lifestyle. Working with children and young people over an 18 year period meant evening workshops three nights a week. I was never paid for this and many many dozens of children became productive woodworkers as a result of my efforts. I chose this. i still get messages and emails from them. Now I film and make much of that available for free and also charge to make my living but it has all been part of a chosen path. I say all of this not say how great I am or how good it’s been but that I wanted to to do it and made it happen. Young people can do this if someone tells them early enough to think about it and make it happen.

  4. Cliff Williams on 27 August 2014 at 4:13 pm

    Hi Paul,

    that’s interesting stuff you have wrote there. I would like to ask you what made you decide to move to America and how was the lifestyle across the pond, did you enjoy it?

    I’ve only ever been to New York myself I really liked it a lot.

    Best regards,
    Cliff

    • Paul Sellers on 27 August 2014 at 10:37 pm

      I left the UK disillusioned and frustrated. I came back filled with life and love for my home country and friends here because I knew I could be a solution and make a difference. I loved and still love my work and friends in the USA. I love the people and the places and the support they have all given me through the years. I think to really understand America and Americans you have to live with and be a part of them. I have met Presidents and senators and economists and woodworkers too – the latter by the many thousands. They will always be amongst my warmest memories and closest friends.

  5. Cliff Williams on 29 August 2014 at 8:43 pm

    Thank you for your reply Paul

    I think to live in America would broaden any persons mind a real lot. I would love to spend more time there.

    Best regards,
    Cliff

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