Friday, March 6, 2009

Woodworking versus 'artist in wood' and other artsy-fartsy pretensions...

So, I just got off the phone with a potential client. His family homestead barn came down, and he salvaged some of the boards and timbers from the thing. Wanting to keep them alive and useful, he's trying to find a project that will allow him to put the wood to good use. In my mind, I think this is a really cool project on his part, because I think it would be a really good thing to be able to take a part of something in one's history, and make a lasting object out of it, if for no other reason than so that you (in this case, I'm using the rhetorical 'you,'... for some reason, I'm very much feeling my english major background right now.) ... so that you can look at the object, and know that part of your past has been recaptured, and kept in a way that is still useful.

I know so many people who keep random bits and scraps of things, but in no structured, useful, or meaningful order. So I think it would be really great for this guy to be able to say "Yes, I made this out of wood that I salvaged from my family's old barn." I get that, it gives me the warm fuzzies, and that's really cool.

And I could hear it in his voice as we were talking, because it was clear that he wanted to be able to build the thing, but didn't have all the equipment, and might not have all of the skills necessary to finish the job. So I told him that my goal was to give him what he wanted... a finished project that had as much of himself as he was able to put into it, and that I would help him get as far as he wanted to with that goal in mind.

"That's really great... I had no idea," he said "if that was going to be ok with you, or how much of it you really wanted to be able to finish yourself."

I think that's one of the distinguishing characteristics between work as a woodworker, versus work as a custom furniture builder. I know, and have talked to, many woodworkers who either wouldn't take the job, or would want to finish it up themselves, to show off their own capabilities. I'm not so filled with my own self-importance on that score. My goal, as I continue to see it, is to help people realize the vision they have in their mind, and to get the thing they have in their mind to be realized... not just to sell my own work. So I think this project is going to be really cool.

Obviously, I'll post pictures as the thing unfolds.

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