I Will Continue To Practice

What drives your woodworking?
I just want to be great at it.  I have no idea if I will make furniture, turn bowls, chisel sculptures, or build tiny pieces of art.  Each time I see something beautiful that is what I want to do.  Woodworking has so many paths.
It is easy to recognize that dabbling in everything will lead to a mastery of nothing.  The importance of focus keeps me on my path of discovery.  When the temptation to stray pokes its head out of a magazine article, I give it a pat on the head and send it on its way.  As the temptation hops off into the distance, I take a moment to fix its cute fuzzy image in my mind.  I think about why those adorable little ears almost convinced me to leave my path.  Almost convinced me to stop practicing and jump into a project.
I want to mark this possible diversion on my mental Google Map.  One day I will stop practicing and head off the path to explore.
While I waited for my mushroom and Swiss cheese burger, I read the winter 2010 issue of Woodwork:  People, Ideas and New Work.  It is the sort of issue that one keeps forever.  The articles are so well written that each time I feel unmotivated; this is where I will turn.  The articles are so well written that they tempted me to run home try other stuff, to skip practicing, to leave the path.  Patrick Downes has written an article about a woman named Yuri Kobayashi.  Her work reminds me of one of my favorite artists Maya Lin, who is best known for creating the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC.  I read of her life, I stared at the pictures of her work, and I wanted to try to learn her style.  She has a piece called passages II, which is a bridge made using 4,000 mortise-and-tenon joints.  To date, I have cut 11.
No sooner had I dismissed this temptation, when another popped out of the next page.  Terry Martin told me all about David Ellsworth.  He turns bowls.  He turns magnificent bowls.  The tale of his life, dedicated to the pursuit of his craft, filled me with wonder.  He has a book, some of you probably have it sitting on a shelf; it is called, “Ellsworth on Woodturning, How a Master Creates Bowls, Pots, and Vessels.”  I thought to myself, “Find this book, devour its secrets, and learn to turn, buy a lathe, take bite of cheeseburger and a few fries, Oh, the Vikings scored…”  I was reading the article at a bar and watching the Vikings vs. the Cowboys, while a washing machine sucked the sawdust out of my clothes.  Had the Viking not scored, I might not have snapped out it.  I might have wondered off the path.   A pat on the head, one last look, and the temptation was gone, but it was a close one.
Though I choose not to follow either temptation, their work, stirs my creative juices.  It makes me remember all of my own ideas, which I want to pursue.  I returned home after the game, and opened up Photoshop.   I dusted off a few of my designs, an art deco pattern, a chair and bathroom I created in sketch up, and I get my mind back where it belongs.
Wood is such a special medium.  The soft feeling after it has been sanded,  the stunning patterns that the years have woven into the grain, and the limitless possibilities that woodworking holds, all make this the most exciting time of my life.  So I will continue to practice.  I will continue to practice.  I will continue to practice.   Ok, now off to put the sawdust back in my clothes.
Wali Khan
Wali Khan


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