Friday, March 14, 2008

the process

I spend a lot of time in my workshop. I am a woodworker. I have this compulsion to create things out of wood. I don’t always know what I will be doing when I enter that world, but I always end up doing something that leads to a result that I didn’t see coming when I started out. Once I start down a particular path I almost always stay the course until a satisfactory result is achieved.

I’m not one who can sketch out a drawing of what I want to create and then follow that plan to its logical and preordained conclusion. The ideas are ricocheting around inside my head and eventually one manages to escape those confines and sparks a feverish bout of activity. The inspiration can come from any source—something I saw, something I read, something someone said to me. And often the inspiration comes from a chunk of wood that has been lying on the workbench or standing in a corner unnoticed and hidden by other neglected chunks of wood. Suddenly that particular piece of scrap becomes the centerpiece of the next sculpture/artifact.

I don’t know if that seemingly random process of creativity makes me less or more an artist. I know there are some purported artists who draw detailed studies of whatever they intend to create and then follow that plan carefully until they have the finished product in hand. That, to me, would make the creative process tedious, a chore. I like the idea that what I do is mostly spontaneous and surprising to me even while I am thinking about where the process is leading. I like being able to make spur of the moment decisions that change the course of the work and lead down unexpected paths. That way the end result is often a surprise and delight to me.

I may start out with the intention of making, say, a box. Then I search through the materials at hand for something worthy of being a box. Then when I have found some likely materials, I decide how big to make the box. Once size is determined I think about how to manipulate the materials chosen so that they will result in a box that is not just functional but pleasing to look at. All through that process decisions are made that affect the outcome. Some decisions are found to be wanting and must be dicarded or revised. Some decisions lead to marvelous and unexpectedly beautiful and wondrous results. The important thing to me is the process. The result is a mere byproduct of that creative process.

So with that in mind, here is the result of one of those random creative processes. I thought I would make a box. Then I decided to make a box in a box. Then I thought it would be a little box. One thing lead to another and the result was this little box of Maple and Walnut that is meant to hold business cards. What makes it even more special is that it became a birthday present for a good friend. It fulfilled all the requirements of a successful endeavor—it is beautiful, functional, was wonderful to make, and appreciated by the recipient.

I can’t wait to get back into the shop to see what will happen next.

If you want to see some of the other results of my creative process, click on the gallery link in the sidebar. That will take you to my "After The Sawdust Settles" site. I am working on finding a way to offer these artworks and artifacts for sale. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Michael Manning said...

You do EXCELLENT work! My CPA is 82 and has just added a table saw to his workshop. It is amazing what he creates. Your photo here is truly a "work of art". ENJOY!