THE EVER EVOLVING CRAFTSMEN: LEARNING NEW OLD LESSONS
Recently, after getting some helpful tips from a fellow wood worker, I discovered a whole new way of finishing my wood frames. Being a loyal environmentalist, it made sense to toss out chemical based products in exchange for all natural ones. I don’t use chemicals in my household, why should I use them in my shop?
How I got into using chemical finishes and fumey stains in the first place I honestly can’t remember, we develop strange habits over time.
I learned to use finishing oils in the first project I ever completed during my woodworking apprenticeship 6 years ago, yet somehow I fell into using wipe-on polys and Minwax over time- products that not only gave me a nauseating buzz but failed to be dependable in their output.
Honestly, I actually worried more about the affect these toxic fumes would have on my devoted canine companion, who never fails to be by my side when I am working. I am sure many woodworkers can empathize with the frustration of spending hours milling and sanding lumber for a project only to have it meet an ugly, fatal end under the splotchy, uneven absorption of a stain. Even when taking proper precautions-thorough cleaning, wood conditioners, base layers, technique-extraneous variables-temperature, humidity, dust, the wrath of the wood gods- can affect the outcome of any project. This is the bane and beauty of working with a living substance. Wood is always changing, even when it takes home within a final product. This is not only the art of woodworking, but any craft- knowing your medium inside and out.
As craftsmen and artists, heck…. as human beings in general, we often pigeonhole ourselves into routine methods. We fall into the trap of forgetting to improve our ways, forgetting to ask questions and step outside the box. Basically, we get stagnate. It is important to not do this. It is important to keep growing.
With that said, in an effort to provide better quality frames that do justice to the art they house and the beautiful wood grains and knots they showcase, I am proud to announce that Knotty Moose is officially ALL NATURAL!
For this project I used Tried & True’s Original Wood Finish, a non-toxic polymerized linseed oil and beeswax. The results are truly amazing, wood that is super rich in color with a buttery feel that is simply gorgeous- I encourage any woodworker to make the switch. You can check out a shot by shot progress of my first round of all natural frames on my instagram feed.
Let me know what you think and as always, comments and tips are always welcome!
Knotty Moose was fortunate to take part in Buffalo’s Jack Craft Fair
this past weekend. The event was incredible and so many wonderfully talented “artists” and “craftsman” took part. The art world often snubs their nose at the term “craft,” but I am quite proud to call myself a craftsman…well, craftswoman.
In discussing the term with my very talented friend Maude White
, who story tells through the most intricately beautiful cut paper creations, we commiserated upon the lost honor and respect towards craftsman and manual laborers. Having learned the skills of a woodworker through years of a true apprenticeship, supplementing my income with the most diverse array of construction jobs-drywall, carpentry, painting, dirty demolition, roofing, ect-I have often felt the societal pressure to get a “real job.” As an educated woman with a college degree, I have even been criticized by MANY with the disapproving, “what are you doing with your life?”
What am I doing?
I am gathering skills. I am challenging myself to learn new things. I am strengthening my ability to do things on my own and for myself. When problems arise, I can fix them. I can build things. I create things for others to enjoy. How many people can actually say that? In explaining her own craft and efforts of creation, Maude told me, “there is a different type of satisfaction when you use both your brain and your body.” Any craftsman would agree to this truth. We can’t change who we are. We have an innate urge to create. This is who we are.Samantha Epps
, the brainchild behind the Jack Craft Fair, understands this. I pulled the following from the fair’s website:
The Jack Craft Fair was created to revolutionize the way people perceive and think about “craft.” Craft is a term that is today often used to refer to any type of handmade busywork. But let’s rewind back the Middles Ages real quick and think about what “craft” meant then. In the time of jousting and Jesters, the word “craft” described a convergence of art and science. It referred to any profession that relied on talent or technique, such as metalworking, weaving, glass making, woodworking, or potting.The Jack Craft Fair aims to revive the traditional sense of the word “craft” while also embracing all the wonderfully industrious, innovative, and modern crafts that today’s artists have to offer. By selecting only exemplary artists who have mastered their craft, we strive to showcase progressive, edgy cultural workers, and subvert the connotations of the traditional craft fair.
What is “Jack”?
Jack refers to phrase “Jack of All Trades.” The craft fair strives to bring together craftspeople from all different backgrounds, and similarly, unite individuals who practice the same craft.
What is Fine Craft?
Fine Craft is a term coined by Jack Craft Fair. It refers to the production of art or goods reliant on the maker’s skill, technique, and dedication to the art. A fine craft is artfully done and radiates the maker’s effort and attention to detail.
So, to all my fellow craftsmen, artists, contractors and skilled laborers:
Be proud of what you do. Take time to give yourself credit for your feats of labor. Don’t let anyone tell you that what you do is any less worthy of a “desk job” or socially praised career. Be yourself and enjoy your process. I applaud you.