I don’t know about you but this year started with deep concerns and the chasm of disappointments seems to have deepened in just a few days into2021. It’s not us, the working people with boots on the ground that create the stir but those at the so-called top that stir up the unrest in our souls. But politics and global economics aside, covid-19 too, we are what matters most. I have no need of sports and no real need for politicians either. They are just there on my periphery. What matters to me is not world fame, other gods that are no gods at all, and neither is it recognition or power but whether I can work designing and making and living life without such influences too much in my face. That said, though the world has some real issues even worse than politics and even pandemics, we should not be ignorant of nor discouraged because the news gets massaged with nods, winks and intonations and inflections to cause fear, angst and unnecessary anxiety. Here on the outside of screens and lenses the real world of people begins in the destiny we have to make things right. We’ve had some catastrophic influences on our daily life but we are mostly all at home or work or working from home to make life tick and matter and when you are a maker, little seems to change. At the garage workshop I am making the first piece of furniture for the sellershome.com range in the living room. I finally have my design down and made and it’s my version of a working rocking chair for the 2021 year in the millennia.
I finally got it to fit exactly where I want it to fit and with a few minor tweaks here and there I have been able to make or design a joint for every connecting part. My original prototype as is often the case was all screws and no brains–a kind of pocket-hole thing dumbed down to remove brainwork, skill and technique. Today the quest is all joinery sweetly cut by hand and eye, chisel, saw and plane. Yesterday we filmed the start and today we are making more videos for YouTube. A new series of lockdown projects to keep your development going so some very simple and some not so simple but very doable!
It is hard to conceive that the world is on a better course but when you think about it it might just be. Glass half full or empty, I found myself full of happiness throughout the start to this year. Are there two faces noses almost touching in this picture or is this just a glass standing alone? I have a feeling we will all see things differently but my joy of woodworking is stronger today than it was when I began in 1963. I am just as excited, just as fascinated, just as willing and all the more encouraged. Why? How can this be? Well, mostly it is because of you. You see, my craft in the art of woodworking using hand tools was almost dead 30 years ago. So bad was the decline, the only place that hand planes were really seen was as an image on a carpenter’s van and business card logo. Certainly not in the tool kits of carpenters and woodworkers. I am confident now that my craft is far from dying because it was taken out of the hands of professionals and firmly planted in the hands of responsible woodworkers that saw the ethos of handwork as something very positive. So no, it’s not going to die because professionals shunned the hand work demands for skill because you didn’t! It’s actually going ever deeper into the hearts and souls of those of us I call absolute and total amateurs. Amateurs? Is that insulting? Not at all! I will remind us all that we are doing the things we do with hand tools because it is the single most rewarding method for working wood and any and all crafts too. We do it because we LOVE IT!
1784, “one who has a taste for some art, study, or pursuit, but does not practice it,” from French amateur “one who loves, lover” (16c., restored from Old French ameour), from Latin amatorem (nominative amator) “lover, friend,” agent noun from amatus, past participle of amare “to love” (see Amy).
Meaning “one who cultivates and participates (in something) but does not pursue it professionally or with an eye to gain” (as opposed to professional) is from 1786, often with disparaging shades, “dabbler, dilettante,” except in athletics, where the tinge formerly shaded the professional. As an adjective, by 1838.
This is who Paul Sellers is. I have been an amateur woodworker for 56 years working daily at the bench six days a week. I wake up at the beginning of the new year chomping at the bit to get running, pulling pushing, lifting and making. I wake every morning the same way and of those 17,000 days of woodworking full-time 10-12 hours a day, I can barely remember one when I didn’t enjoy it.