It’s classic advice to surround yourself with interesting, inspiring, uplifting people. Sometimes you can create that environment, and sometimes you just get lucky and find yourself in such a situation like I did last weekend. I had been invited to demonstrate and discuss bowl carving at Fine Woodworking Live in Southbridge, Massachusetts. So, I demonstrated and discussed, which was a wonderful experience thanks to the enthusiasm and great questions from the attendees. However, what I did most at the event was learn.
My education started Friday morning when I assisted Peter Follansbee as he taught fifteen students spoon carving. At Greenwood Fest, Peter and I are usually presenting simultaneously, so this was a golden opportunity to watch him teach. I learned a lot from that, as well as from Peter’s auditorium presentation on the “Green Woodworking Renaissance.” Watch a presentation by Peter and you’ll achieve a deeper understanding, laughing all along the way. Although he humbly downplayed his significant role in this renaissance, Peter shared his broad and valuable perspective on how we’ve reached a point where adzes are a hot commodity and fresh shavings are falling to the feet of more and more woodworkers.
The trend continued with an intensely thought-provoking keynote address by Peter Galbert, entitled “A Chairmaker’s Journey.” Pete’s talk was a fascinating story of a voyage of discovery, richly illustrated. He shared practical wisdom on aesthetics and techniques, as well as insight into the philosophical approach that has made Pete’s journey as a maker so meaningful.
I continued to learn from Pete’s demo on spindle turning. Although I have no woodturning ambitions, it was a good indication of how transferable knowledge and skills are. I gained so much perspective from Pete’s demonstration regarding aesthetics, sharpening, material considerations, even courage. Same goes for my experience with Mary May’s demonstration of carving a ball-and-claw foot. I don’t anticipate a ball-and-claw footed bowl, but that’s beside the point. I was able to gain a new perspective on many things from tool choice to methods of layout to envisioning a design.
I’ve just scratched the surface, but that will have to do. The line-up of presenters was incredible, and I was fortunate to get to talk with many of them. I was inspired by them as well as the attendees and students. Just a rich environment of people sharing knowledge, ideas, and laughs with one another.
I was so involved in taking things in that I never thought to take even a single photo. That’s poor discipline for a guy with a blog. So I’ve included a couple sketches of a spoon that Peter Follansbee gave me at the event. I was compelled to sketch it to learn more about it and because I like it. Already looking forward to hanging out with Peter again, and a whole host of characters at Greenwood Fest in just over a month.