For something that started out as a cathartic and fun exercise, this project turned out to be surprisingly formative for me. While the finished works look fantastic, these wood-based sculptures continue to expanded the range of materials I employ while fundamentally reshaping the way I approach process and the idea of “fine-art”.
Don’t take this the wrong way, but sometimes after the completion of a sculpture, there is a brief moment that feels almost anticlimactic. It can take weeks and months of effort just to tease an idea out of my mind and put it to paper. once I have a workable idea, there are hundreds of additional hours of physical work to fabricate and bring it to fruition. While it is a largely enjoyable journey, it can be jarring once all that work is over and I am faced with a final result. I am often left with a vague uneasy feeling because realistically, how could any object, no matter how accomplished, ever live up to that level of effort?
This phenomenon usually subsides quickly and I can see my work (more or less) for what it really is, but strangely (refreshingly) I did not experience any apprehension about what I had achieved at the end of this project. I think there are a number of reasons for this.
One reason was simply not knowing what the result would be. Completing each of these bread-loaf sized gems was a small revelation even for me.
Due in large part to the unknowns of wood grain and color interactions, I just could not accurately predict the final outcome of each work. I found myself constantly making last minute changes, swapping in different woods, and disposing of ones that did not make the cut. I changed my mind so often that each sculpture’s final appearance was a pleasant and welcome surprise.
Working with wood has also been an exercise in embracing randomness. The uncertainty inherent to woodworking; not knowing if a given piece of material will crack, have a flaw, or behave in other strange ways has made the success of any given part feel less consequential, which in turns makes the work as a whole feel more fluid.
This change in process has taught me to better temper my expectations and give myself the time to reconcile the ideal I have in my mind, with the reality of what I’ve actually done. This, combined with decades of experience in my craft, has given me the discipline, patience, and the emotional tools to navigate projects with minimal trauma and maximum joy.
A Brief Process Note: As I continued to post videos of my modified offset turning processes for fabricating these larger works, I was amused to see comments that alternately accused me of being brilliant, brave, or “mentally deficient”.
I suppose if my approach elicits such a wide range of opinions, I must be pushing a boundary of some form or another.
While a little unconventional, my processes choices did prove successful in the end. Perhaps that is all that really matters.
Thanks for reading.
As always, comments and questions are welcome.