In my spare time, I dabble in woodwork. My dad was a builder, but he died before I realised how much I’d miss his knowledge and experience in later life.
I’ve never done a woodworking course in my life (although Youtube makes a very good teacher), so perhaps I appreciated this post from 8th March all the more.
The brief article (below) is about Sam Maloof, an inspirational and completely self taught woodworker. Check out some of the Youtube videos of his work. It’s stunningly beautiful stuff.
I’m a big believer in desire driving people to learn, and sometimes formal education can blunt that desire by replacing the things that you want to learn with somebody else’s priorities and formulae. (This must be why there are so many rules and mandates to obey – you only get this when you’re having to sing somebody else’s tune!)
Sam Maloof refused to conform with other people’s desires and, instead, honed his own.
People just like what I do and buy it. As for schooling, my clients are my teachers. They’re the ones who bring me the design problems. Schools get too easily divorced from the real world. In many places students graduate and become teachers without ever making a living from their work. They grow stale. There’s a preciousness I see in a lot of student work that comes from having too many hours to put into it. Perfection is fine, and nothing has left my shop that I’m not proud of, but you have to produce if you are going to make a living. I’ve heard people say they have to put a piece of wood aside until the spirit hits them. That’s procrastination. Pick it up and work it – you’ll feel the spirit. No, I think it’s an advantage being self-taught.
— Sam Maloof, December 1980, Fine Woodworking
First appeared at Lost Art Press