Monday, June 30, 2014

The Competence Project: Drifting in a Walnut Shell

That title is a very oblique reference to the original Hans Christian Anderson version of Thumbelina, which involved Thumbelina sleeping in a cradle made of a walnut shell. That story always freaked me out a little bit as a kid, not sure why. I didn't have any natural aversion to Cinderella-type stories, so maybe it was something about her minuscule vulnerability. Maybe even as a child I was searching for inner strength.

None of this has anything to do with this table-in-progress, except that it incorporates driftwood and black walnut. Last fall I was fed up with my copy editing work, frustrated with my parenting, and generally feeling glum and at sea. And pointless. So I emailed Dan Mack (the woodworker and artist I've taken the most classes from) to see if he had any classes or studio days opening up. It turned out he was doing a found objects workshop on the banks of the Hudson River that coming weekend, so on a Sunday my husband and I took the kids and he had them rambling around poking in the water and playing with sand and collecting rocks and sticks while I essentially did the same thing except with some direction. Or not. Dan likes to encourage people to find their own relationship with nature.

I found these:

Four driftwood sticks, which I kept trying to place so they would eventually make a table (I seem to be obsessed with little tables), and he gathered them like a driftwood nosegay and helped me screw them together and level out the bottoms.

It sat in our garage for a very long time because I couldn't find the right kind of top for it. Driftwood is so brittle -- I learned that to my regret in my very first class -- so it couldn't take something too weighty.

A few weeks ago I was at the sawmill and I found these slices of black walnut in the scrap pile:

The owner always encourages me to take scrap if I can use it (part of New York Heartwoods's mission is to reduce waste). I've got three pieces of flat walnut, and one would seem like the perfect top for this table, so I'm sanding them down (eventually -- there's that whole kids and job and life set of wrenches that run into my projects) to see how they'll work.

What to do with the rest? Cutting boards would be great (I'd love to make some of those) except for the big holes in the middle.

It'll be a while before I finish this again, as I'm hauling the kids back to Montana (yay! home!) and don't intend to leave for quite a long time. Hey! We're building a house. Soonish. Well, after we sell our cookie cutter in New York. So that'll be fun.

Until then, small projects. And look! A cat!

No comments: