It starts with a prompt; a kind of nudge from someone I don’t know, never met, never heard of who made something for his home–his family to use–to dry clothes or air them after ironing. This someone made something decades ago and its useful but not nice looking. I see its potential beyond its bare bones skeleton of a frame. That man only saw usefulness. Perhaps it’s all he had time for. Sixteen screw-threaded fasteners, half an hour’s chop-saw crosscutting it, and it has all the features of a basic mass-made-by-machine look. To the man it was never meant to be attractive—functionality first as in form follows function and not too decorative at all. Make it pretty and you’d be asked to do more.
You see all of the edges are dead square angular corners with no relief. The arris is still in place and, cutting-edged, has the ability to leave straight creases along anything hung to dry on it. Every time your hands hang out laundry or ironing your knuckles glanced the square corners and there is no attempt to reconcile it because his hands would never have hung laundry or done any ironing otherwise he likely would. But the idea is good. It’s a piece needed in every home without a tumble drier and of course it is highly environmentally acceptable because, well, the nylon fibres last a thousand times longer in tact when no tumbler is used to thrash the flailing plastic around its innards.
At first my thoughts are, ‘is it too simple?‘ After a short while I am more sure it’s not. I’m looking forward to starting it so I start developing new joints in my head; something I almost always do, and I see them emerge in my mind’s eye bit by bit. It’s worth a go I’m saying so I start milling my wood for the prototype. By now I’ve climbed over my doubts yet again and continuing through the wood milling stage I feel the usual excitement. I’m thinking a little bit Shaker here. An arched foot first of all. Yes I like that half-crescent look my mind envisions. I start thinking rounded rails. No more creases and hard corners. It’s fun progressing things this way. Mental rehearsals gather the momentum for a full launch; spirit, soul, mind and strength.
I planed all of my sticks using two basic planes. The ribbons of pine and the smell have their usual impact. It’s still a good workout that keeps me perpetually in training and I run out of breath now and then. I don’t really have big arms but my experience has show that big armed people usually don’t have too much spare anyway so I am glad. Constantly I am thinking for the joints I am planning to use. I have an idea, a new one. I sweep up the shavings, masses of them. The wood’s as smooth as silk, every face, knots and all. I gather the shavings into the dustpan and feel good about my waste bin and it’s cotton liner. This is the first full bag I’ve had. Izzy gets the shavings for her chickens and I get half a dozen eggs in return.
I do confess a little pride in making something useful that’s nice to look at and look into to. Maybe this next thing will be lovely to look at too. Thanks for the nudge!