I’m spending this Christmas holiday with my wife’s family this year. Part of that tradition is a “secret Santa” gift exchange. I drew Uncle George this time. From what I understand, George is a retired jack-of-all-trades, and spent many years in construction and cabinetry.
I knew we had to travel with our presents, so I didn’t want to get into anything big. And having just received some bog oak from England at the time of the Secret Santa name drawing, I had a desire to turn a bog oak pen. I had an idea it would be something George might appreciate, so I decided to make the pen and give it to him as a Christmas gift.
(I have some pictures of the pen I quickly took after it was made – once I get back home I’ll take some time to post some of my projects on my blog and I’ll make sure that is one of them.)
The gift exchange there is always a very social affair, where one person opens their gift and passes it around for everyone to examine before the next person opens theirs. George was one of the last to open his, and once I explained to everyone that the pen box wasn’t what I made (it was a $5.99 cigar-style rosewood pen box from Rockler), but it was the pen, they seemed to appreciate it a little more. Thank goodness I took the “Made in China” label off of the box! That would have been awkward if everyone had thought I was presenting a pen box as something I made with that label on the bottom…
Earlier this evening, Dana told me that George had come up to her and expressed his joy in his present. He also said that, after seeing some of the projects I’ve completed since I started woodworking, I should consider leaving my IT career and make woodworking a full-time thing.
I certainly appreciate his kind words and I’m truly glad he enjoyed his gift. But I’m not without such self-awareness to know I have a long way to go before I even consider such a move. I know in order for such a thing to work, one needs to be able to bring together a good combination of craftsmanship and productivity and business knowledge. I have some sense of the first, very little of the second, and even less of the last!
But while I don’t think I’m ready for it now, it IS something I often think I’d like to do at some point in the future. One of the few things to actually make me feel any kind of jealousy towards another is when I see someone in a vocation they truly and completely enjoy. I would love to eventually find myself in that same situation!
I’m not really in a huge rush to get there. I know it will take time to develop a strong foundation of the skills I’ll need to make that kind of jump.
But the question I asked myself earlier this evening, when Dana mentioned George’s comments, was if I would have the courage to make such a jump when I was ready.
I’m often amazed when someone actually pays me for some of the things I’ve made. I don’t know if I can quite comprehend the possibility that I could make a year’s salary selling the things I make.
It isn’t something I’m going to worry that much about right now. I’m content with making a little bit here and there – enough to buy a new tool every now and again and pick up some wood from my local wood pimp… But I think after tonight it is something I’ll always have in the back of my head. I hope I can keep it there as a motivation, and not as a fear-induced limitation.
-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com