First deciding that I wanted to spend my days honoring the gifts of nature by creating wooden works of art seems to be the easiest part of my chosen vocation.
At the inception of my journey, I was just a kid that needed to fill his high school schedule with a class. As a lot of students will do, I took a wood and metal finishing classwith an incredibly knowledgable instructor. Talking craftsman’s chemistry and essential application techniques became something to wake up for in the morning, and before I knew it I was stricken with the desire to make.
Growing up in a house full of 70s era folk music, naturally I couldn’t help but want to play the guitar.
My limited musical ablities mixed with the new found joy I had\found in wood working and finishing lead me to find a career that would allow me to express both.
I enrolled at Minnesota State Technical College-Southeast Technical College- Red Wing in the guitar repair and
construction program. Beginning with classes designed to familliarize us with the shop environment and materials used, my fellow students and I began to learn how to grind and sharpen a plane blade, make curved cuts with a band saw, andunderstand the structures and properties of the woods we were going to be using.
Fast forward a few months of minor repair work and a lot of shop time, I begin making a steel string acoustic guitar.
Fast forward another few months and I’m deciding I haven’t felt the level of craftsmanship I was hoping for in my guitar work.So I decide to spend another year working my way through the Violin repair and construction program in Red Wing.
After only a week or two I knew that I had found what I was looking for.
The task of repairing, adjusting, and making these particular musical instruments felt much more involved
and painstaking then the year before. There was a much deeperhistory of the trade and the true stand outs were usually single artisans perfecting their work day in and day out using the
simplest tools that are available today.
At the end of the year, I felt I had the experience to go out and pursue entry level repair work and become quite profficient with that. However, I still felt as though I had a lack of a firm
foundation in the constructing of these beautiful instruments.
So I searched for a school.
I knew to get what I wanted out of it I was going to have to find a place that valued the technical and mechanical side of the craft AND the artistic individuality that came with the truly great Masters that came before me.
This, for me, meant finding the proper instructor to lead and guide me into finding my own voice in a working world full ofworkmen that strive for the same ideals that I have.
I was lead to a place in the Northwoods of Wisconsin a true Craftsman in charge of guiding a small number of students in the ways of the old masters while still striving to let the art
progress in the way the forebearers of the work would have wanted.
Now I’m weeks in and finding each day more enjoyable then the last.
Forging my way through the first few instruments to gain the control, feel, and eye of those who have perfected the craft before me.
The raw hands, strained neck, and weary eyes let me know that though there may not be a great deal of us out there, but we go through our days knowing that real hard work can still be done
in a world run on automation.
That sweat and blood shed means we are creating something worthwhile and that will withstand the test of time just as the Artisans’ work before us has.
I have taken my first steps and as long as I keep my eyes and feet forward I’m steadily on my way to becoming what I truly desire to be.