Monday, October 27, 2008

Reclaiming Lost Space

As I write this in my notebook it is early morning, just before sunrise. The wind is blowing powerfully, and with each gust I hear pecans being shaken from the tree, hitting the tin roof of the shop as they fall.

I don't know what it is, the perfect weather, the changing leaves encouraging me to follow suit, or the oncoming of winter, but I have been fostering an uncontrollable urge to work. The kind of work where muscles are stiff and sore at the end of the day. The kind of work that you can look back and say that you have achieved something positive and long lasting.

With the exception of a brief trip to New Orleans to witness the marriage of our good friends Pen and Adam, I have been in the shop, gutting a back room and rebuilding it.

My hope is that this new room will serve as an assembly room of sorts. Where I can work without as much sawdust, on the finish, assembly, gluing, etc.

Here's a photo of the room. It was added to the shop by my Grandfather, and was used for garden equipment. After my grandfather passed away it was used only for storage of things long forgotten.

The floor was rotten and had fallen in.

First I gutted the room and then removed the floor.

Then started rebuilding. I didn't take many photos of the process, simply because I didn't want to stop.

And here is the new space. Much more needs to be done, but this will get me started. Now I can happily listen to pecans fall on the roof as I whittle away on a new banjo.

John Brown, the self proclaimed "anarchist woodworker," passed away last month. I've been reading some of his writing recently and thought that I would share this, it seemed appropriate.

"When I had completed the chair I sat down and looked at it. I always have a notepad nearby, and I felt that I had to capture the moment. Here, for what it's worth, is what I wrote.

'This big chair was completed on December 9th, a Friday. It is as good as I can do. Perhaps if I live a while longer and work, I will develop greater skills. My mystic self tells me that everything is just right, the angles, and lengths of the parts seem to be in harmony.

This chair marks the recovery of my powers. I have no pain of discomfort, my mind is active my *lighted candle and the flooded fields around me seem to balance my mind and spirit. I know I can work and make a good chair, nothing else matters and I am stress free'"

John Brown. Good Woodworking March 2001

Amy and I enjoying the New Orleans weather.

*"...noticed a candle burning on my bench from the photographs of my workshop, even in broad daylight. The candle reminds me to concentrate, like tying a knot in your handkerchief as a 'remembrancer.' If I don't concentrate, sawcuts go awry, gage marks appear in the wrong place, in fact, lack of concentration lets the gremlins out of the cage."

John Brown. Good Woodworking September 1997


Anonymous said...

What a lovely post, my friend. When are we going to get together?

Randy said...

Thanks for the comment, Rick.

Sorry it took so long to reply, I've been out of town doing a demo. I hope to get together soon, feel free to e-mail me.