The machines in the wood shop stand silently as I walk around turning knobs, measuring distances, and locking clamps. Then the check list, safety glasses, hearing protection, dust mask … Switch on the noise, dust collector and the saw. From the stack, I lift the 61 pound plywood sheet, feeling the weight move through my hands to back and then to feet causing me to shift my stance to stay upright. Lay the sheet on the edge of the table, slide it right to the fence, and then forward to the blade.
The saw screams and the dust flies as the plywood moves through the blade and is split in two. I push through, and let the righthand side drop to the floor. I stand straight, shifting my balance and pull the remaining sheet to the left, back and then push right to the fence. The saw screams again as the motion moves forward. Repeat until the plywood sheet becomes a stack of bookcase shelves.
On cold winter afternoon music plays from the computer as I carefully measure the fabric on the cutting board. Finding the right position I press down on the ruler, open the rotary cutter and slice the strip out of the material. Move the strip aside and reset for another cut.
At the sewing machine, the gentle rhythm starts as my foot presses down. Two different pieces joined. Then another pair and another. The iron presses the seams open and more cuts, more sewing and a stack of blocks starts to build on my cutting table. Someday it will decorate a wall.
During a moment of inattention, two pieces get joined wrong and I dig through the drawer looking for that seam ripper. A little time, a pass through the sewing machine, and the error is corrected.
In wood an error could mean sanding, recutting, digging out nails, removing screws or scraping the piece. The process is slightly different – maybe a bit more involved, but the result is the same, an error corrected and a part completed.
While there are striking differences between wood and fabric, there are an amazing number of similarities. There is careful measuring, machine setup, understanding the materials, tools that cut, and tools that join. The need to create, the ability to envision a completed object before starting, and the willingness to spend the time needed to get the desired result are the same. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bookcase or a wall hanging in the act of creating as the result is the same: a vision, a plan is turned into something you can see, touch and marvel over.
It comes down to the same things, a mind to plan, a desire to create, tools to work with and raw materials to shape.