Yesterday the work was hard, filled with awkwardness, and I wrestled with the complexities time and again. That’s how beautiful things come to life.
I made a plane years ago to create beauty with. I shaped its body of wood and then took steel for the blade and formed it to shape with a hacksaw and file. I’ve used a many a file for this; one from 1967. The first plane i ever made from sycamore and a square file. I recall the thrill clearly now , 50 years later, as the shaving twisted up from the easement in a full length spiral like a spinning firework on bonfire night.
The inspiration of my work perpetually compels me.
Whether a file shapes my steel to give me my cutting edges or the chips and shavings rise to greet my eye I look beyond these things that give my life meaning and wellbeing to what lived creativity gives me. The tools I made and make soon cause the wood to yield beauty in its inmost parts.
I made seats and benches, cupboards and things like these over the years but it was never the money I would make or the speed I sought but the dextrous work my hands give me. I still challenge myself with the awkward things and the complexities but now my work is crafting others to achieve their ambitions to become truly gifted.
People constantly tell me you can’t make a living working with your hands. Everything must be done by machines. That’s always seemed silly to me. I smile and tell them pointedly, “That’s not true. Machines have a place to take the big pieces down to the smaller sizing, but they can never substitute for developed skill.” They shrug it off and walk away shaking their heads. I carry on at my bench and make something very beautiful and work twice as long there. Some say it’s because I can’t make it working less hours. Some say these things. I say it’s because my work excites me so much I don’t want to stop even for lunch. I usually work all day without a break. Ask those I work with. I do take three walks into the woods and fields for half an hour each, but that’s to think and consider the things I see as important.
I see now how a beautiful cello emerged from steel cutting edges made with my son, Joseph, and then shared hours and days and years filled moment by moment with pockets of pure joy using the tools we made to work with our hands. When voices we carved with our hands and a few tools came from strings stretched taut and the imagination of those who played a cello and a violin made through awkwardness and complexity by a man and his son I found levels of satisfaction I never achieved by any machine.