I did enjoy preparing for the 2-day class last week but it is always a lot more work than I anticipate, mostly because I am no longer solely dedicated to what was a dedicated woodworking school. I think running a school may well be more an over expectation carried over from a past into what has become for me a new era. So my resolve to keep on teaching is as much for my own inspiring as for those who come to learn. Classes have been a pivotal part of my life since 1990. Perhaps if I have 3 decades of dedicated service to my craft, hopefully my work will have been sufficient to have preserved the craft and skill and serve for future generations to follow. I hate the thought that my work might be swallowed up into advancing consumerism and such. I can only hope that my investment defies such shallowness and equips people for generations of woodworkers worldwide yet to come this way.
Those I work with now truly enrich my life. It needs saying here lest I forget to say it. They are fun, funny, enjoyable and friends. I like listening to them as they work with one another, hearing their points of view on our work and also from the private spheres that revolve around them. These things are life enriching too. I like also their clothing, their unique mannerisms, speech patterns, thought processes and voices. Between us all we create unique work in creative ways. As I drove home I thought about these things and found myself smiling as my thoughts passed over events of the day and week. When one of them is absent. They are missed.
After each workshop I teach I realise how many diverse backgrounds people come from to learn with me. I only mention this because, when I came into the world of working, a computer occupied the floor of a multi-storey corporate office and then, back into the 60’s, they were the scarcity not the norm. A hundred punch card operators operated machines that generated the cards and from this calculations were made by feeding the cards into the computer. Your smartphone can achieve more than this now. The people that came to the workshop were musicians and artists, engineers, financiers and carpenters. One thing they had in common mostly was that they all used computers to a greater or lesser degree, another thing was a penchant to become skilled craftsmen in their own right. They wanted also to learn to do it the right way and by hand. My job was to impart relational knowledge in the most balanced way I could. I should have photographed their achievements because many carpenters would not be able to achieve what they achieved using their specialised equipment in the same time. This outcome has for me become the reality of what I do – this is success.
In another week or so we hold the next 6-day class. Between then and now I have much work to do. The filming is going well and so too better and ever-improving video making. Your support is helping greatly to reach an ever greater audience so thank you so much for telling your friends and indeed staying loyal. It spurs us on when you send your pictures to the gallery section showing what you’ve made and comments of appreciation.. I never knew my work would come to this.
One thing I really love is that woodworking is a great leveller. The diverse backgrounds I spoke of seem almost inconsequential somehow when everyone starts their work. There is no class, no colour, no religion, no claims, no sadness or melancholy. I wish more women tried their hand and was surprised to see that the class was all men again. About 7 years ago I had classes where more women came and one that was 75% women. I felt hope that something was changing but somehow it just stopped, as if the tap was turned off. I now wonder if there is a difference between the North or North-west of England and the South.