Update 15 May 2018 4pm GMT
I want to apologise for the broad brush I used denouncing educators. I wrongly based my evaluation of teachers on the teachers and lecturers that taught me throughout my teen years who showed little aptitude toward the craft itself even though they were supposedly trained. I don’t believe that all teachers teach because they can’t do it and know of many excellent teachers as friends. I don’t see myself as a teacher but as a mentoring craftsman in a craft where teachers from a skilled background seem to me, all but gone.
Some of what I have said here is how I feel but could be hurtful, unfair and has no place. Please accept my apology.
Notes from my Journal May14 2018
It’s Monday evening. I just finished making the wall shelf from my teen years. It was an amazing feeling to relive something so pivotal from 55 years ago. My hands are strong now—a hundred times stronger than back in ’63—and with only lean sinew and pure muscle with no fat in them anywhere.
My hands have stood the test of time and never have they failed me. So too my eyes. I’m grateful for that. But it was the spokeshave and the spokeshaving that spoke to me most; no pun intended. I remember back then thinking I could peel potatoes with one of these. The wood peeled up, curled in twisted spirals and then spun weightlessly away to the floor. I picked up the shavings and kept them on the corner of my bench as gatherings. Gathered. They were gathered by my fingers and set apart as a collection of gathered workings. These were my workings and they were the first shavings of quality I’d ever made. Other boys laughed at my stupid collecting, but I could care less. I’ve never cared when people laughed at me for doing what I do with what I use.
As I shaved and shaped my wooden boards this week the memories flooded in. I am sure I was learning but that was not what mattered. I wasn’t good at it and that was not what mattered. What mattered was this. For the first time in my life I was immersed in a sea of discovery. A passage had begun. I did’t understand the logic of any of it. It made more sense than math and the English language. Geography offered me nothing and history then was mostly about the Luddites halting progress which I understood altogether. I was escaping the status quo. I was discovering new possibilities and a world of making seemed filled with possibilities. To do woodworking I learned the art of ducking under the radar. Even when my parents were summoned to the head teacher’s office and after he had told them I could never be educated I still managed a few hours of woodworking and metalworking. This became my paradise. I left school and became what I am still, a passionate manual worker. Oh, I did go to college. Sat through many hours of boring talks and lectures knowing that the lecturer taught because they couldn’t hack it in an adult world. I passed all of my exams well enough, but it was none of this that equipped me for what I do now. Had Google been around when I was sixteen I would have learned more than I ever did in college. And in a short fraction of the time.
So, my past behind me caught up with me in the making of my wall shelf. I chose some quarter-sawn oak for mine and it looks nice. Today I will apply the shellac finish and polish it out. They other amazing thing is this. Even without all of my things in place, in cupboards and on shelves, I felt in total control and felt I could make anything wanted with nothing added. I have bags of room around me so no complaints from me in my new garage space. Best workshop yet.