”Getting Out of a Rut and Into Rustic”
....and so i traveled the way of going the path of my heart, where many had stopped to stutter at having no art, these were the more then many who walked the walled isles of you-know-mart, having given up their life of soul for the is-stilled creature comforts of designer defined dead art….
Going rustic was an answer to the prayer of my heart, where I never need have no-more second thought to any who would come and say, why don’t you do it my way!
Sometimes I have to wonder what has come over me and so often in times like this, I will step back and give my-self a very big hearty laugh. Don’t take your-self so seriously and you will be able to often laugh at your-self, I am and even so, this to ‘just is’.
Well getting back to laughing at myself in this thing I call ‘the process’ and where I am now, from where I was back then. I had to go south this past week down to MA to pick up some epoxies for some work I was doing….T-88 Structural Epoxy, great stuff. This trip used to excite me, I mean Rockler and Woodcraft, two great woodworking stores and power tools filled to heavenly stacked dreams, so what’s wrong with this picture now? I hit Rockler first and then went on down to Woodcraft and stopped again at Rockler on the way home, three stops, two stores and I never even stopped to pay respect or attention to a power tool. I do remember passing a jointer and looking….but then I was past and so I gave the jointer no-more thought.
Ha! I don’t even know if I’m a human woodworker any-more, I didn’t even care about looking at any jigs or accessories. I did spend some time looking at some hand gouges and spoons, while also looking over their stock of Japanese hand pull saws and then spending some time going over finishes. So what did I purchase after all this time spent in woodworkers heaven? Well I needed the T-88 and then there was that one special Japanese hand pull saw and some shellac flakes to finish the day out.
Now in thinking about this, what I have come to understand is that I still have my retained ‘woodworking soul’. And what I have come to learn is that woodworking is not about my tools, but how does my soul relate to the ‘soul of the wood’ and that when my ‘woodworking soul’ and the ‘soul of the wood’ are in oneness then I am in heaven. This is kind of like when I came to understand that heaven is not a place of ‘altitude’ but heaven is a place of ‘attitude’.
Many years ago when I started thinking about going rustic and exploring the wherefores and theorem’s with the how to. It did not take long before I soon realized that rustic was off the beaten path of where I was then living in traditional woodworking. The artist of rustic are offline to traditional woodworking in what is called the mainstream of woodworking….and so I often live off the beaten track….! And even by going rustic you still have to determine how much you will define your rustic as to being rustic. Now one can buy the jigs and cutters that make the mortise and tenons for you, or will you decide to make those by eye and hand. I can plane with machine or will I go for longer and plane by hand. In all this I have learned that many are the ways and means for being rustic and still calling the finished project rustic.
Rustic characters are off the mainline of traditional woodworking and it becomes us to know where we have come from and then to determine where we are going. The rustic woodworkers of early times were not full time woodworkers, these were the guides of land and water trails throughout the northeastern region of the greater New York upstate, in that area we now call the Adirondacks. These were the guides and caretakers of the great camps of the area and when the camps closed down for the season, these stayed behind and kept things going and did the repairs throughout the long, empty and cold winters. These men and women were rustic before the great camps came, before the fashions of people came and when all others left for home, these lived on as being rustic. Rustic for these was not an interior fashion designers word play of ‘rustic is hot’ for they knew that being rustic’ was a way of living come what may! During the summer months these guides, caretakers and workers of the area gathered and collected those bits and parts of wood that were set aside for those long coming months of winter. Their eyes saw the bends and twists in the wood that would yet be the legs of tables, chairs and benches along with the artistic sculptured ‘wood art’ settings. Their hands knew the shape and feel of the wood along with how to shape and fit the wood together by using hand made nails. Carving by hand, shaping by hand and pegging by hand, these pieces of rustic ‘wood art’ still live on in many of the great camps of the Adirondacks even today.
Many of the doers of this rustic way of life today, still do the work of rustic furniture making by using non-motorized tools of steel and bringing in the element of hand work. Just the joy and satisfaction that one can attain to from carving with timber chisel or drawknife hand made tree nails. Then there is the steel plate where one can pound through the range of holes till one reaches the desired diameter of peg and what about the riffling effect that is gained here, so as to lock and hold that peg in place.
Well, enough said at this time as I am preparing to go out to the shop and be rustic, out in my shop I can become lost from all the traditions of woodworking that I still must play in so as to maintain a working living. I still do houses and camps, where the folks love the looks of being cosmetic rustic without the workings of rustic. And so it is in my shop where I can be found to also listening to the sounds of being rustic after the character of the wood….now that is rustic ‘wood art’.
Thought I would pass this photo on as I found this one a couple of weeks ago out in one of my wood piles just gathering character of seasoning over the winter season. This wood is called bittersweet and I usually find it growing and climbing on trees, bittersweet is an invasive plant, so folks are usually quite glad to have it removed. Works good for rustic benches and also for various decorations of cosmetics on the furniture.
-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/