Sunday, 15 June 2014

Made by Hands.

  I just wanted to post a link to a video I watched today. It tells two stories.

  One is the importance of a good learning process. So much is lost today to our youth. Their learning environment is often restricted to observation and the thinking process. Many struggle and are pushed through the system and come out with next to nothing from it. Ever notice how many younger people(not all mind you) will give up after one try? Tell them try again and they look at you like you are crazy. "I just tried and I can't do it, why bother again".

  The learning experience must be complete. Where is the active experimentation and the concrete experience that leaves one feeling great about their achievement?

  Easiest example I can come up with is someone ties your shoes, tells you about it, you think about it but don't try yourself. After a lesson like this I bet seventy five percent will be walking around with shoes unlaced or shopping for slippers. Velcro straps anyone?

  The second story is how a man used his hands to deal with his problems. He used the doing and feeling part of the learning process. This gave way to his reintegration with society and is now able to use observation and the thinking process as well. The latter two processes have allowed him to come to grips with PTSD he suffered from over 45 years. The regret in that man's eyes about those lost years is palpable.

Everyone must be subjected to the whole learning process in order to deal with life's problems.
When you are missing a piece you cannot deal with it on your own. I used the whole learning process and still had a very difficult time with PTSD. I just felt I had no time to stop and help myself over the past 17 years. Now I know I was wrong and have changed things for the good. It is like a whole other world has opened up and I like it. Others like it as well.

Please watch this very interesting 10 minute documentary. 
click on the above link to see the video


And thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Funeral for a Friend Cremation Urn

   My friend's father died a short while back and his mother asked if I would build a nice urn for them.

I agreed. I would be honored. I liked Roger, he always had a kind word for me and a smile.

  Last I saw him he was at his cottage this past summer. We were up to go see a show in Calabogie that night and we were going to spend the night afterwards.

  Roger was getting ready to put some masking tape on his boat to touch up the paint. I offered to help. Roger had been battling cancer and tired easily. I could see how much he wanted to get this done. I am glad I helped out that day. That turned out to be the last time I spoke with him.

  The celebration of life is this weekend and I had been throwing around ideas for about a month.
Inspiration was not coming easy.

  I found a nice piece of flamed maple and cut some sides out of it and dovetailed them together a couple of weeks ago. Incidentally the wood comes from the maple we cut down a few years back in our yard. There were also some pieces with black colored spalting in the wood. Spalt is caused by fungus that invades the wood as is begins to decay. The spalting always leaves interesting patterns in the wood grain. I like to think they are the spirits in the tree that are exposed by the fungus. Some times they are ugly, sometimes beautiful.

  I was in need of some clear thought. I find classical music can help your mind quiet down and helps to arrange your train of thought. Apparently it has a lot to do with the symphonic. All the instruments working together to create harmonious sound. I cranked up the stereo and the room filled with music. My mind began to focus. Blocking out things like, is the mail here yet. What day is it? Will the Simpson's be on for another season? Maybe I should have a nap?

  I dug around in my box of resawn spalted wood and found a book matched pair that made something that looked like a moose head. After some planing of the wood the moose changed a bit but still had a spiritual look to it. I glued the two haves together and stared at it.

  While Beethoven Piano Sonata Opus 27, No.2 know as Clair de Lune in French wailed on the stereo the spirit panel flooded me with thought and placed the finished piece in my mind. I could see it. I drifted into the zone feeling the rush. Every move I make will bring me closer to the end result.

  I picked up some walnut. That will make a nice contrasting frame edge for the top panel and trim for the bottom. After some machining and hand work things really started to take shape. I love that feeling, right into a flow where the shop is my world. Nothing matters but here and now.

I shaped the spirit panel to best show it's composition. Oh ya, that'll do it.

  The dovetailed box gets a bottom put in, then the walnut trim goes around the base. The top frame accepts the spirit panel. Yes, were humming now. Next to make are the transition pieces between the spirit panel and the walnut frame.

  I spy some cherry burl in the corner. Oh I have been waiting for you cherry burl. This will make an excellent transition between the maple and walnut. The burl is very brittle but I am in the zone and I take care with it and coax it to yield.

  The tree spirit walks with me.

  I smooth the wild grain on the box sides with skill full strokes of the scraper cards. I let the wood lead me. Passing the card in any direction that doesn't give resistance. Soon it is smooth and ready for finish that will pop out the flame characteristics in the maple.

   A coat of oil varnish is applied to all parts of the urn. The wood comes to life. So much grain, colors, depth and chatoyancey. Time for dinner and let it dry. Enjoy the pictures. Click on them to make them bigger.

 Nice flaming on the sides.

All hand cut dovetails for strength and looks.

You can see the cherry burl transition surrounding the spirit panel.

The mitres on the lid have pieces of maple set into them to add strength and looks nice.

  When I returned to the shop after dinner I was shocked when I looked at the box. It was like I had just seen it for the first time. Maybe the tree spirit built this and I was just it's hands. Nah. Maybe?

Thanks for reading
Until next time