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Different, but the same

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My wife and I went to a statewide arts and crafts show last weekend, and I think I may have learned something important. Or, more accurately, realized something I knew all along.

This annual show isn’t your run of the mill event with lots of amateur work – no scarecrow-on-a-stick decorations or fat-lady-bending-over yard ornaments here – but first-class, juried work. Items on display ran the gamut, including textiles, paint and sculpture, metalwork, calligraphy and, of course, woodworking.

In fact, at a guess I’d have to say that woodworking accounted for maybe a third of what we saw. Just about all types of woodworking were represented, but turning and carving dominated the offerings. And all of it was excellent.

I’ve always felt humbled and envious when viewing outstanding carving, because I just can’t do it. And while I’m a pretty decent woodturner, I could never in a million years do some of the paper-thin bowls and hollow forms we saw. All I could do was admire, shake my head, and stand in awe of some of them on display. But there were other woodworking disciplines represented, too. Cabinetry and chairmaking, treenware, Christmas ornaments, and lots and lots of boxes. Now those are things I can do, and I risk bragging when I say I can do all of those pretty darned good.

That’s when I realized that these were just opposite sides of the same coin. I can’t do hollow forms on the lathe, but it’s very possible that one of those turners isn’t as good at box making as I am. But we’re both accomplished woodworkers.

I wonder if Harrison Ford ever looks at Billy Joel, and thinks, “Wish I could do that.” Or if Mark Twain ever envied Norman Rockwell’s abilities. Or visa-versa. I’m guessing probably so.

When it comes to talents and abilities, I don’t mean to imply that I’m anywhere near those four gentlemen’s leagues, but the point is that creativity is universal - especially within a particular area, like woodworking.

And while I may envy the turner of those paper-thin bowls, I’m more than satisfied with the woodworking gifts I’ve been given. More than that, I’m proud of them.

Till next time,


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