A look to the past

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Mark Baker (Group Editor)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It was about two years ago I wrote the following leader, and it is interesting that I find myself receiving calls and chatting to people who are saying similar things. It seems that much in life is cyclical. The blackbird and robin are still going head to head in my garden. The robin is currently winning and stopping the blackbird form getting near some food put on the bird table. The blackbird has to take a sneaky look to make sure the coast is clear if it wants to take a bath in the pond, too. For something so small that robin is a real feisty thing.

The acers I planted are doing wonderfully. I am about to buy two more to add to my collection. The workshop is - once again - in a state of disarray. The only thing that is different is that due to proper stock rotation I have not suffered the dreaded woodwork again… yet! I am however behind on another order of work and it won’t be long before I dash off to the states to see the AAW symposium. Definitely a sense of deja vu.

Is my life so mapped out that I seem stuck in such a loop? The deadlines keep coming around. The travel is ever present. I am just about to leave the building to go to the Yandles show in Martock and I was just checking the diary and found I had bookings as far in the future as 2012. Eeek! Maybe it is all mapped out...

Leader from Issue 176

How to beat stress

After a particularly stressful week at work – and for those that don’t know, as I live 110 miles from where I live and lodge away from home when at work – I decided that since I had no commitments this weekend I would plan for a relatively easy time. I would go fishing on the Saturday, spend a bit of time in the garden Sunday and go to a friends birthday barbeque on the Sunday afternoon before travelling back to work.

Suffice to say that I had fun with all the things planned, but it was when working in the garden that things I’d seen as obstacles started to click into place. I am not sure if it was the planting of some snake bark Japanese acers or watching a the robin and blackbird having a fight for the worms that had been dislodged, or just the fact that it I was just merrily enjoying what I was doing and not pondering too much of anything at all that caused the change in feelings but I immediately set to clearing the workshop. This is a job that I had definitely been putting off and to be honest the mess had been getting in the way. Now people who know me would be asking how I let it get in a mess. I am so fastidious about that sort of thing that I must admit to being quite ashamed of myself. Anyway, I started the clearing process and made some room, junked some bits that I was never going to use but hadn’t the heart to get rid of before and moved others to a back-up storage shed. Oh and in the process I found that by not stock rotating properly some pieces of elm and oak had some woodworm. Hmmm! So a fastidious search ensued to find any other offending pieces and isolate those that were in close proximity to see of they too had become infected. Other rough turned bowls were nuked in a microwave just to make sure.

Now having an urgent need to create some pieces that I need to take to a symposium I am due to attend in the near future and I have not created any pieces yet… eeek!

I proceeded to mount a piece off fully white ash and a sycamore bowl and turn it to them shape that I will require. The act of turning was every bit as good a stress buster as the gardening. The hiss of a sharp gouge cutting the timber, the shavings flying over the shoulder, the gradual evolution of the shape and then the subtle refinement…oh I just love turning. The ash piece will eventually be sand blasted and bleached and I will show that piece when I have finished it. The sycamore piece is to a shape that I often use and was turned to a completed shape from a rough turned blank.

Woodturning has to be one of the most frustratingly rewarding hobbies there is. Yes, we may have problems with control of the cutting tools at times, the wood moving or splits are where they should not be, foreign objects such as bullets, stones and horse shoes embedded in the wood but ultimately the sheer satisfaction of over coming the odds and getting a beautiful finished item is wonderful. So I have come to the conclusion that woodturning is a natural stress buster, what do you think?

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