I look through my journals of ten years ago and enjoy reading what I was doing on the equivalent day compared to today. Ten years ago I was teaching and making. Believe it or not I was teaching two classes at once and I was making a cello with Joseph all at the same time. One class was making my rocking chair and that being highly intensive I had but two in that class. On the other side of the workshop I had a full class (16) on my then six-day foundational workshop where the students of all ages were making a dovetailed box, a wallshelf and an end table. Because of the work I was used to I could indeed work with the students and intersperse drawing and making into the scheme of things. Drawing and writing encapsulates much of the essence of what I felt at the time and immediately I open a page in my journal I am translated right back to the very moment or moments of creativity I was engulfed in. Nothing, no other media, including film, can do this for me. The funny thing is that I may well have forgotten that I ever did this or that, so, for me, journalling is something I will always recommend.
Looking through the journal I saw that in the evenings I was teaching classes to children and their parents too. This was very much what I did. Teaching adults in the day time, making, working with together with Joseph who was 16 on his cello and then kids too. If you see there I was in the workshop from 8am until 10pm with a 45 min break at lunch and then 1 hour for supper with my family. I taught hundreds of children this way over a 20 year period and then taught the teachers to replace me too. The work now extends far beyond me of course and that has always been the intention of my work.
This week of course I was in Israel teaching and encouraging woodworkers there to engage with their children and family to catch the vision we have for family woodworking and then establishing local societies of woodworkers on a worldwide basis. This is not as it was in the past where it was just woodworking for men. For me it has never been that way but with the machine only fraternity it did make serious issues to discriminate against children and then others too. The long and short of my trip was that we made a serious impact to encourage people there to seriously consider the vision we have for woodworking and they got it! Of course I see more and more of this happening across the board as the result of our work towards reestablishing the craft of woodworking. My learning how to teach children as in my own children helped me to teach children and their parents and then of course adults. This is a marvellous thing that took me out of the realms of my comfort zone, my Britishness, my Englishness, my gender specificity and any ethnicity as much as it was in my power to do so. This is the power of woodworking and indeed craft working and nothing can stop it. The Industrial Revolution is a revolving revolution that was indeed flawed and so too the subsequent revolution. Talking with my friend and mentor a few weeks ago we discussed the Industrial revolution as factory fodder and it is no different today in the new revolutions that everyone loves temporarily until their eyes are opened to ask the question of themselves, “What on earth have I just spent my 30 years doing that has any more worth than putting food on the table and paying off my debts?”
Well, our revolution removes the revolutionary cuts and opens up the wood with deep deep spheres of creativity again. The people develop skills in quietness and in most cases are more skilled than almost all professionals. I love this happening around the world. It’s amazing in this one thing. Hand skills are being preserved in the doing of woodworking.