Wisdom-through green woodworking
Much to learn
Having built and furnished two homes, mostly out of green wood sourced from the surrounding land, there was a time when Alex thought he was beginning to understand wood and himself. However, trees, like us, are deeply affected by the world around them and similarly, like us, don't reveal all that lies within.
Just when you think you are beginning to 'get it', wood will give you a humbling wakeup call. Certain fibres will start to grumble or maybe yell out at you. You'll hear their displeasure first through your hands. Flow and cooperation has turned into resistance. In woodworking terms this is called tear out, break out or just a plain stuff up.
You know you have a very sharp blade so it must be that the wood is trying to message you. It's saying, 'You're trying to make me do something I don't won't to do. We're not working together here. You're trying to exert control over me.'
The voyage of discovery
In life some may want to blame others for problems. However, to externalise cause is to close the door on discovery. Marcel Proust wrote, 'The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.' Rather than blame the wood, discard it for another piece or naively attempt to change the wood, look at it through 'new eyes'.
New eyes invite a pathway to learning and evolution of design (or a complete change). On this intruiging path you learn that error and failure are but unhelpful words, you let go of the notion of control over the wood, see beauty emerge from the unplanned and uncover your ignorance.
Often a green wood piece - be it a fine Windsor chair, a simple stool or a bush pole frame - will have a discrete aesthetic that you can't quite put your finger on. Chances are, the latent image of imperfection tells of a woodworker who favoured the will of the wood over his or her own. In letting go, they stepped towards a deeper more authentic relationship with their piece. And we too now benefit.
So it came to be. His life with wood led Alex to form the name of the business - Wisdom Through Wood.
Green wood offers us a wiser approach to life and woodworking - one that is ecologically sensitive, tactile and insightful. I've summarised these three dimensions below.
A house is built but so much still to learn.
Ecological - I tread lightly in the woods
Green woodworking is ecologically sensitive. Wood is one of the rare building materials that regenerates itself. Unlike us, trees give back far more than they take. Green woodworkers who tread lightly in the forest are highly selective about the trees they fell – or the windfall they select.
On a Wisdom Through Wood course you will be invited to plant a tree seedling before you source your wood from the surrounding bush.
Tactile - I sense the wood
Green woodworking is a tactile and human experience. A sharp steel blade becomes an extension of your hands. Your sense of touch provides immediate feedback as to whether you are going with the grain or against it. You do not have protective equipment interfering with your relationship to the wood. Your human energy and senses are responsive to the will of the wood. You do not use electrical or chemical energy to impose your will on the wood. Your relationship is one of cooperation and understanding.
Insightful - I learn about wood and myself
Green woodworking is insightful. You can step away from the normal social context, disengage from the digital world and put ‘stuff’ aside.
You move to a safe place, work at a human pace and engage in the present. You have opportunities to discover, reflect and learn – about woodworking and yourself.