Monday, November 11, 2013

I have a dream

Recently I was reminded of one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s most famous lines "I have a dream". "So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream" Can you hear it? "It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream, I have a dream". I hear it in my head just the way he said it, don't you? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speaking into one of those old fashioned microphones with passion and conviction and  eloquence. He kept repeating that phrase "I have a dream". What would he say today? I was almost 2 when he gave that speech in August of 1963. No, I don't remember hearing the speech live. But all my life I have heard it in movies and documentaries and radio. Do you remember how you felt hearing his words, listening to his speech? He dared to challenge a long held institution to free a group of oppressed people. Do you recall feeling like your own dreams were within reach? If only it were possible. If he could help free this huge group of people then just maybe our little personal dreams could be pursued. It is called "the American dream", right?

Recently I was asked to make a small stool for a dear friend from college. Of course, I said yes immediately. I have had a strong desire to make chairs and couches, but hadn't thought about stools. Its all woodworking. Same principles apply you just have to create the solutions to the problems at hand. I didn't realize how much this would tap into the core of my dream to be a woodworker.

She made it simple for me by saying the seat could be a darker wood and the legs could be lighter. Right away I found a perfect piece of Claro Walnut for the seat and for the legs I looked to that tree I've been drying for about 7 years. I haven't cut into it yet. Its been tugging at me. I picked up a piece and began milling. Now according to James Krenov, this is real woodworking!

I went about milling and making and solving the basic issues at hand and thought I'll make the carcass and sculpt it into a shape so it's comfy and spiff it up to make it look nice.  I cut it up with my worm drive (thats a big circular saw), took the claw of my hammer and removed all the excess waste. Then I grabbed my chisel and began carving. Carving, shaping, feeling, carving. Carving is this wonderful process of scooping out wood in small pieces all over thus making a shape. Eventually you can have whatever shape you want with big scoops or small scoops. It took me by surprise! Transported me right back to those years of making sculptures.  It reminded me of how I was introduced to woodworking. My personal definition of woodworking. Tools are this thing between you and the wood and something so simple as a chisel and mallet feels so basic, so true.

Shaping the seat reminded me of my dreams. My personal interpretation of The American Dream.

Have you been in touch with your dreams? It's so easy to forget our dreams and just keep plugging away at whatever we do. As he said "so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow". Of course he was talking about big, serious, life threatening difficulties. He was fighting for freedom and with that, the right to dream too. To live in the land of the free. To pursue life, liberty and happiness. Today our difficulties are spiritual and financial. I do share those same words as I wonder how I will pay the rent on my shop next month. And how will I feed my spirit as I do the work it takes to get the money to pay the rent?

Is it true that if I follow my dreams I will succeed? Isn't that part of the American Dream? Now I remember . . . I like to make earrings because they are sculptural. I use sculptural elements in my boxes, and in anything I can use as a medium. I simply love making shapes that interplay with other shapes and end up being something that stimulates the viewer. 

I know it probably seems strange to you, the reader, that I might forget how it feels to do woodworking that is close to my heart. It's so easy to be focused on making a living and trying to figure out (particularly in this industry) what is going to be 'bread and butter', all the while forgetting what really got you here in the first place. For me its carving. Its sculpture. When I am following my dreams I feel like I am living my life. This reminds me that I am free to dream which is the right of all people and, for me, to choose to ignore my dreams is like turning my back on all those who fought for our freedom. Thank you Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for your words and your bravery and thank you to all who have fought for our freedom in our own lives, in court or on the battlefield.

Thank you Joan and Bob for giving me a little more life to live and reminding me of my truth!

Gratitude, Passion and Work!

Auto mechanics are fairly accustomed to people wandering into their shops with broken down cars or maybe the number one visitor is trying to find directions somewhere. I've done it, have you?

In my wood shop I am pretty tucked away and if I have my doors shut it often means I'm concentrating! But occasionally I'll get a visitor.

Woodworking is one of those things that many people are curious about. They like to look. Changing out a fuel filter is a bit less romanticized in our culture, wouldn't you say? One day I was busy working on the finish of my Mondrian Inspiration (the post right before this post) and in walks a computer engineer. She immediately was drawn to it, said how beautiful it was, loved touching it, and told me about how it reminded her of circuit boards. I could understand that even with minimal information about circuits. The next time she saw it we closed a deal on making a dining room table specifically with her circuit board designs. She has been designing and building them for about 25 years and has some real favorites. I know, who would think?

I really didn't know what I was delving into. I usually come up with my own designs so I thought this might be an interesting approach. She sent me about 6 or 7 different circuit designs and labeled her all time favorites. We agreed to limit the circuits for cost and I plunged forward into making a collage using her logo. It took a few design attempts and a little back and forth just for me to be able to understand what I was really looking at and I came up with the approved design. I created a couple areas with more circuit density for interest and used some larger circuits to help the eye follow the entire piece.

The table is 85 3/4" long, 42" wide and 2 3/4"" thick with no bottom skirt. I use my own breadboard end design including 18" threaded rod and bolts, a stout through spline and steel plates to attach the legs to allow for movement within the table and the stability to hold it all together.

The piece is a powerful tribute to a lifetime of work and success and reflects the passion she maintains about her own creations. It is very exciting to use my own skills and creativity to reflect another persons enthusiasm for their own work. What a tremendous treat! I love what I do and right now I feel such gratitude for the opportunity to do the work. There are all kinds of things that can get in the way of us following our dreams. Clearing the way one obstacle at a time and creating the opportunity to use all of ourselves in our work to share with others is exciting and fulfilling beyond words on the page.

For an even more personal touch I added her own logo design. Cool logo, cool idea, gorgeous table!

I hope you enjoy looking and reading about this project. Feel free to leave me your comments below and follow my blog to read about the projects I don't even know about yet!

Little Flame

Little Flame
Prize winner in the NWFW 30th Annual Box Show! SOLD