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Advice From a Woodworker

advice among the treesIf you know someone who wants to be a woodworker, here’s what I have to say: What you are building is not furniture. You are building within yourself the ability to create furniture.

You will never get paid enough for the time you put into your best pieces. You need to settle with that now, before you go too far, or the disillusion could overwhelm and cause you to quit. The way to realizing your worth is by realizing that you are not building just chairs or boxes or things. You are building within yourself the ability to create.

This is true of anyone in an artistic profession, be it quilting or drawing or shoe making. To construct something of lasting beauty in the world is what you have to bring. Whether or not you get paid for it and how much is not as important as the worth that it brings to you. Of course, you want it to mean something to others. You want people to like what what you make, and to like you. But it won’t mean anything to anybody unless it means something to you first.

Inside the woodshopGive yourself breaks. The desire to create ebbs and flows. You do not always need to be producing in outward ways. Sometimes you grow quietly, inside, like a tree that becomes dormant in winter so it can bud forth in the spring. Allow yourself to have these highs and lows, ups and downs, and spaces of time when you plateau. Taking breaks is especially important if you are self-employed and doing art for a living. The work you do, and your inability to stop until you get it right, is the long slow way. Although you want to obsess, it is important to know when the obsession is getting chaotic. When that happens, then you need to step away. The work will always be there, waiting for you when you come back. It can wear you down otherwise, so be sure to give yourself time away.

drawing of a bookshelf designed by Dan Dunbar in 2009What woodworking taught me is patience, and the ability to follow through with a piece even when completion is months away. Always there comes the part when you think the whole thing is falling apart, a mess, a complete disaster. This is part of the creative process. If you stay with it, you’ll find the answer just a breath away. The piece will reveal itself to you, what it was always meant to be.

2 Responses so far.

  1. Renee VanHorn says:

    Well said ! So very true ! I find that to be exactly the case with song writing. Just step away when needed ….. :)

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