Sunday, December 21, 2014

sturdy little bench

This little bench is very close to my heart.  It's made from old douglas fir (a board I picked up somewhere) as well as two cross pieces of new pine.

You can see the holes from the board's previous life as a shelf, and who knows what before that.  The wood is scratched and worn, which is part of its charm for me.

There is a photo of me that I don't have right now, on my first birthday, sitting on a little stool not too different from this one.  That little stool was part of my childhood.  I can picture it vividly still, although it was left behind in Bolivia when we moved over twenty years ago.

Two of my coworkers are originally from Africa.  When I showed them this picture, they said:  we sit on benches like that all the time back home.  And perhaps that is the appeal for me--simple benches like these are what Bolivian market vendors sit on while they spread their produce on blankets on the ground.

I want my furniture to be primitive, made from solid wood only.  It should be sturdy, an heirloom piece that stays in the family for a lifetime or longer, so that it holds an emotional weight.  It's a repository of memories.

The furniture should be unfinished, or at most rubbed with oil or beeswax.  It should not be stained or varnished or painted.  The edges should be rounded, sanded soft, so that your hand feels the wood's smooth texture.  Then as spills, scratches, or stains accumulate, you embrace the history that will be recorded on the surface.

This little bench will be part of my life for years to come.   I would like to make many more benches like it for people like you.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

adobe hut

This picture was taken...a while ago.  We were hiking down from the top of the mountain above our house in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and came across this hut at the side of the road.

I don't remember the dog that got himself into this photograph, but I do remember being enchanted by this little house, built from whatever was at hand, including what are probably eucalyptus poles, as they grow a little further down the mountain.

At the top of the mountain, the grass is bristly yellow against a deep blue sky.  To me, these are the colors of the Andes.

Friday, December 05, 2014

december actions

So I'm applying for apprenticeships for next summer at Heartwood, EcoNest, and through the Timber Framer's Guild.  I'm very excited some days and scared other days but I am not letting myself give up, or change course.  Just keep moving ahead.

I ordered some good boots.

Miwa, a former apprentice from Heartwood, was very helpful in giving me advice about applying for apprenticeships.  She's building a tiny home!  Miwa works with Maria of Hammerstone School, near Ithaca.  Maria teaches Carpentry for Women, and I plan to go up to take a course.

I spent time with some timber framers at the New Jersey Barn Company, and asked them a ton of questions, and they showed me their tools and gave me tool shopping advice.

I signed up for a tool sharpening class in Philadelphia.

I'll be back in Virginia in April for the next Timber Framer's Guild workshop there.

And I'm doing exercises to strengthen my core.

I'm excited!

Now I have to go grade quizzes and tests and try to focus on that for a bit.  When I finish maybe I'll go down to the basement to keep working on my table again.

Thanks for reading!  I'll keep you updated on my progress.