Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Competence Project, Bowl Me Over

Ha, ha. Isn't that a funny title? If I were still on Facebook, I'd have just been blocked by several friends. Oh, wait, you haven't read the post yet. Even less funny.

I'm a sucker for all those gorgeous wooden bowls you see at farmers markets, the kind that look like they were carved straight out of the stump of a tree and yet smoothed by silkworms. (Does that simile work? Probably not.) So I asked how a rustic woodworker would make those things. "You need a lathe" was the answer, and evidently not an option for rustic woodworkers. I haven't vowed allegiance to any particular kind of woodworking; this just happens to be the teacher I have access to, and he's awfully good. Why we can use drill presses and table saws and sanders, though, and not a lathe, I haven't worked out. Nor could I see how the option he gave me -- an axle grinder -- made the piece somehow more authentically rustic. I mean, an axle grinder. Here I am working it. You know what I'm thinking? "This is freaking insane. Please don't let me lose my grip on this and slice off someone else's fingers." Also, my mouth was full of wood flakes. They went well with the (organic[raw]) almonds and (organic[unsweetened]) dried cranberries I'd brought for lunch.

When I finished, I found that my hands were abraded to the point of bleeding, all over, from the flecks of wood flying everywhere. What I had started with was a cedar knot that was just lying around the workshop. Dan sliced the bottom off with the table saw (he didn't trust me with the table saw yet, quite rightly; he shouldn't have trusted me with an axle grinder, either), helped me clamp it tight to the table, and I dug out the middle with the grinder.

Like the pine-top table, it took me a long time to work out a shape to finish this in. There's so much flexibility with raw wood. It's limiting in a way, no rules to follow. But fun. I could see myself living as any number of Tolkien characters with the stuff I'm making. (The proliferation of raw wood products, barely finished and oozing forest, is starting to concern my husband, who prefers antique, highly varnished furniture off-limits to cats and, um, children.)

More of my crappy photography. These were taken with an iPhone. I don't like iPhone photos. The colors always seems wrong. (Actually, I just don't like the way the iPhone takes pictures of me.)

I finished this with the same stuff I use on my skin -- a homemade lotion of beeswax and almond oil. (Learning to make lotion was, of course, another competence endeavor, and depressingly easy. I can't believe how many years I've paid significant chunks of cash for a product that, if made at home, costs little, uses only a few [or even only two] all-natural ingredients, and takes about twenty minutes. I can make it while dinner's cooking and I'm watching The Big Bang Theory.) Actually, I finished it with that first and then re-cooked the lotion and added coconut oil to make it more human-skin absorbable. (What atrocious syntax.)

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