July 29, 2009

This is what I’ve been working on today.  I’ve had the Maple sitting in the shop for awhile with such a unique grain pattern, just waiting for inspiration to hit.

I made a comment on Twitter this past Sunday that I needed to create something this week, and asked people that follow my tweets to keep me accountable about it.  Well, I didn’t get back into the shop till today, and saw that piece of Maple sitting there, just begging me to use it.  So I sat down to think what to make.

Now, I have a couple different ways that I get inspired.  The big one is to just be out in nature, whether walking in the woods, enjoying a mountain trail (yes, I realize that is not possible where I live at the moment, don’t remind me), fishing on a quaint lake, or sitting on my back porch in the morning and hearing all the birds sing to name a few ways.  Considering that my shop is in town, and even though the empty lot across the road gets its share of deer and a red tailed hawk that lives somewhere near by, the Dairy Queen and the auto-body shop next door kind of ruin that inspiration.

I also can get inspired listening to great music.  Maybe its the idea of art begetting art, I’m not sure.  I just know that some days, hearing a great country or Americana song, by, say, Willie Nelson, Uncle Tupelo, or Neko Case, can get the creative juices flowing.  Other days, it may be the latest indie album from Sufjan Stevens, We Were Promised Jet Packs, or DM Stith that does it.  Of course, jazz is always an inspiring choice, but I really prefer my jazz live, and we don’t have a decent club anywhere near us.  Other times, I need to jam to the likes of My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire, or Yeasayer to peak my imagination.  This morning though, I just didn’t turn any music on, not sure why really.

Another excellent source of inspiration for me is just seeing other people’s woodworking creations.  The works of Sam Maloof are a big one for me.  I have ideas rattling around my head for a couple furniture pieces directly inspired by his chairs that I deeply long to make happen.  Someday, hopefully soon.  I am also intrigued by Thos. Moser.  I know he isn’t as revered among the studio furniture and craft world, but I really love the simple beauty in his furniture.  I also admire his accentuating his joinery.  The works of Greene and Greene inspire me every time I see them!  If I ever get the chance to go view the Gamble House, I could probably spend a couple days there.  I have honestly just begun my journey into getting know the great furniture designers and craftsmen, so I know there are so many more great works to inspire me out there.  Honestly though, sometimes it is as simple as flipping through one of stacks and stacks of woodworking magazines when something will catch my eye.  Usually, its one aspect of a project that jumps out at and causes me to think in a different direction.  Where my imagination takes it could be 180º from what the project was that inspired it, but it took seeing a dovetailed box of two contrasting woods, or a vase carved and sculpted in mahogany, or the choice of a unique grain in a panel of a door on a cupboard to open my mind to endless possibilities.

Now, I know that this little project isn’t as detailed as an 18th Century Highboy, as stunning as a natural edge table by George Nakashima, or as graceful as the elegant curves of a Maloof rocker.  But as I flipped through one of my woodworking magazines, a cutting board caught my eye with contrasting woods.  I immediately thought that a cutting board would perfectly accentuate the beautiful grain of that piece of Maple sitting by my desk.  The ends are Cherry, which I think will set off the beauty in the Maple grain quite nicely.  I haven’t decided what to make the plugs out of yet.  Hopefully I can get up to Woodcraft in the next couple days and find something that speaks to me.

Which I guess would be the best inspiration of all, the wood.  This simple piece of Maple with an extremely unique grain pattern has caused my imagination to really run rampant.  It has given me a couple ideas that I want to pursue further, so stay tuned!  Hopefully what comes of my inspiration will inspire creativity of your own, in whatever area you are passionate about.

(By the way, sorry for the green tint to the picture.  The fluorescent lights in the shop tend to do that to pictures I take with my phone.  Hopefully yet this week, I will have the cutting board completed, and I will be sure to post some better pictures of it at that time.)

I got to build an Oak interior door the last couple days to replace this one, which was burned in a fire.

This has been a fun little project.  Just waiting for the glass, and for the painter to stain and lacquer the door, then I will install it.