This blog is pretty quickly becoming about “lessons learned” writ large (although I have some woodworking updates to report).
Somebody called me an “artist” today, and something inside of me gulped! What was that about? What sort of stereotypes am I holding on to? Sure, I don’t make my living doing “art” in a straight sense (although I like to think I have an artistic approach to some of my work). And my woodworking, while satisfying and even at times attractive… art? Yes, I guess so! But my creative outlets (woodworking, photography, music), while “arts,” somehow don’t fit with my being an “artist.” Maybe “amateur” in the original meaning of the word (a “lover” of something).
So now I’ve got something new to ponder – why do I have trouble adopting the mantle of “artist?” “Scientist,” “scholar,” “teacher” – no problem. OK, some of that has to do with my day job – it’s easy to identify with one’s professional title. But I like to mountain bike, run, roller blade… does that make me an “athlete?”
In a general sense, yes and yes. We all have artistic streaks (and athletic streaks), and we should let them flow and grow naturally. I remember reading a book called The Artist’s Way, which was largely about how we learn to un-become artists in our childhood. Artistry is our birthright, and we shouldn’t be ashamed at our place on that learning curve. (and who exactly am I speaking to at the moment?)
So I’m not Sam Maloof or Lance Armstrong — nonetheless I have an athletic side and an artistic side. Maybe I’ll just let it rest there, rather than wrestle with the labels “athlete” and “artist.” (Just when does one cross the line from “non-artist” to “artist?”)
Meanwhile, back to my mirror. When we last left our hero he was highly dissatisfied with using maple for decorative plugs. So tonight I did cut some ebony plugs, and glued them in. As I feared, the alignment still isn’t great, but I think they’re subtle enough that from a distance, they shouldn’t stand out as jarringly crooked. When I’ve finished the mirror I’ll post close-ups and you can be the judge.
One interesting thing I learned working on my last hourglass is that after working through all the parts of a project once, a replication goes at least twice as fast. If I really wanted to (or I get really tired of looking at the mirror) I could always build another one and take a little more care around drilling the plug mortises. It actually uses very little material – probably less than $20 of mahogany altogether. And the glass, of course, is reusable, as long as I can make the frame pretty close to the same size again.
My wood for the dining table arrives tomorrow morning. I was hot and sweaty after running and then making the ebony plugs, so I didn’t spend a lot of time cleaning out space for it. I should be able to move some more things around in the morning. It looks like I can start milling and gluing up the first boards this weekend! All of the stock is 1″ thick, and I need to glue up laminations to get beams that are nearly 4″ thick for the legs. A lot of the early work is going to be basic milling and stock prep. I’m looking forward to it!
I’m taking Friday off to make this an extra-long weekend, but won’t spend all of it in the shop, of course. The weather is far too nice!