I don't remember exactly when I decided to do it. I doubt I actually made a conscious decision. More and more I realise that I've lived all my life knowing only sight, sound and smell. Recently the thought came to me that if ever I became blind, I would try to earn a living making stuff. This is because when I'm making an item, whether it's a chunky bench, a spice rack or a cute little kitty bed, I often close my eyes to get a better feel of whatever it is I'm creating. As I said, I don't remember when I decided to do that. It just felt like it was the thing to do. I also say a little prayer thanking the trees for this magnificent, rich and warm piece of itself under my palm. Every piece still contains so much life in it. It is truly delightful to touch wood. Slowly run your fingers along its grain and you will read the stories it wants to tell.
My friend Ann keeps sending me pictures and links to all sorts of DIY stuff and of tools I'd never heard of or seen. Because of her I finally succumbed to the lure of a beautifully designed Einhell mitre saw. That was my first power tool. For over a year before that, my cutting tool was an old, rusty, fine-toothed saw (the only one I had) to cut rock hard reclaimed wood as thick as 5 inches. Now, my Einhell cuts like a hot knife through butter.
The feeling is different (very syok la), but I'm glad I started with just an old rusty saw, a hammer, and sand paper. A relationship with wood is not a Tinder date. I'd sooner go on a Tinder date with a human than with a piece of wood. No, no, no... you need to respect wood by taking time to get to know it, by learning to handle it, and most of all, by loving it. Each species has a different character you need to appreciate, and you can't do it by rushing.
The latest excitement, my second power tool, was a recent purchase of a Stanley angle grinder. The first time I switched it on it almost flew off taking me with it. Power tools are scary, but like anything powerful, you have to learn how to handle it. Luckily it's quite easy to get used to. In less that a couple of hours it began to feel like an extension of my own hand. My only issue now is the visor and dust mask - very hot and steamy lah! Suffocating, with sweat dripping down my face, I shape the wood pieces to give it a "distressed" look. I don't like the term "distressed". I feel bad doing it to the wood. I prefer "weathered". I'm the one who is distressed.
Aggie aka Cooper wants to be a welder when she grows up.
Going back to basics several times a day keeps me grounded. Honestly, there's nothing like old fashioned sandpaper and some elbow (and shoulder) grease. Because it's time consuming and really, really tedious, your mind pulls in a million random thoughts as it desperately clings onto the only life it knows - that of over-stimulation. Music, chatter, memories, future plans, anything. This is when uninvited and unwanted thoughts walk straight through your door, climb in through the window and slip through the gaps of the roof tiles. Anything to kill the silence and tranquility of your home. This is when I lock the doors and windows of my mind and be in the moment of my craft.
A family is going to get this coffee table that I'm making. Pens, pencils, crayons, exercise books and drawing pads are going to be scattered all over it as little girls grow up into teenagers, and then adults. Each coffee stain, ink stain, chocolate smear, each tear drop from laughing too hard or from the frustration of calculus will add another mark to this wood that is already richly marked with its own history. The merging of lives has already begun as I, the connector of the two, meticulously and joyfully run my hand over it with sand paper, over and over. Every now and then I close my eyes and feel the smoothness of the surface warmed by friction and tamed by the thoughts of its creator.
It's massive!! I have named the mug Tristan because sitting there it looks like Tristan da Cunha, one of the most remote islands on the map.
The table is not finished. I've put all its parts together to "see first". Next stage will be to hantam a few dents and imperfections onto it, sand it further, give it 2-3 coats of beeswax, and then dismantle it to be transported to its new home! I need a name for it. I shall call her Maya, after Maya Angelou.