“Rustic Is My Way of Talking”
And so one now comes to a part of rustic that means the over-coming of what has been placed within my head as words and requires that I re-learn what I once thought to be an ancient and foreign vocabulary. Much of what I call rustic as is seen in furniture and sculptured art, has come about from a evolving relationship that grew out of old barns. One might ask at this point how do barns or English Barns to be specific relate to rustic wood art?
My love for barns along with post and beam timber framing has caused me to sit for periods of time within these awesome creatures, just as Jonah I imagine sat within the belly of that great big fish. Here in the belly of old barns I have come to grips with the fact that for much of my life, I also was running from a mission that I had been given and the use of a talent that I had been given. I am one who has been many things in life and will yet be many more, however in all my pursuits I have always found myself as surrounded by wood. Self taught in many areas of woodworking, I thought I had arrived or finally settled in when I reached a satisfaction of finesse with finish carpentry and the making of boxes. A maker of boxes I was; kitchen cabinets, bookcases and all kinds of shapes and sizes of cabinets, till one day I saw that I was living my life in a box. The cabinets and boxes I made, I installed in kitchens and living rooms, bathrooms and such and all my life was being contained by the rules of these boxes I made. That was the day I left work and as I was climbing into my steel horse to drive home in, I also saw that my truck was a box….shall I say more or does one start to get a picture of where I am coming from?
How does one go from the rules of traditional finish woodworking to the no-rules and no-straight lines of rustic woodworking, well this is where post and beam barns comes in and this is the love of barns that broke me out of a habit, that gave me a new way of seeing into the art of woodworking! How does and where does a finish carpenter place their spirit level for reference on a massive hand cut 10’’ x 10’’ x 30’ beam that has been squared by a broadax? And then just what is a broadax and where do I get one and how do I use this tool, and do you mean to tell me that folks still use these ‘things’? And as I started learning, asking and exploring I found that there was a whole sub-culture out there of men and women who still carried on a tradition that I knew nothing about. I started looking at the tools and vocabulary that these used and was amazed at the what and all they created and another thing I noticed, was a way of life that gave expression to their fitting in with what each day brought and then there was their giving of thanks.
Broadax, froe, slicks, adzes, draw knives, mallets, wood spudders, broad hatchet, timber chisels, tenon makers, wood dogs and yes the list goes on…..to post and beam, timber framing, bents, purlons, gunstocks, scribe cut, king post, summer beams, bladed scarfs, girts, tree nails and again the words keep on going….
Now you must understand that these words were not new to me, so much as the idea that these were words that some folks used daily in their vocabulary and also in their hands. Since learning about timber framing I have also learned the use of chain sawing in a new way and so what once appeared as how do you do that, is now nothing to it, when it comes to cutting mortise and tenons, scarfs and the squaring up of end beams. Cutting some slab planking with nothing but a hand held chain saw at 10’ – 14’ long is now, nothing to it, just as I have also come to see the ease and beauty of planing a slab with a broadax and or adze.
Where at one time I used to be able to find all I needed at my local hardware store, or in the isles of miles at Home Depot and such, I now started roaming out of way places such as small sawmills and rooting around in old barns for the tools and timber I needed. Out of this experience came my being born again, just as old barns are ‘barn again’ and from this I fell in love with a new way of woodworking….as a worker of wood who now found himself in the forest of woods and learning from trees about ‘wood art’.
I will be continuing on, as I start exploring what these words mean to me and how I now use them in my every-day living of working with wood and rustic wood art.
....to be continued….
-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/