Why do we make things? Why do we do this creative work?
A dear friend came by last night and looked at a kitchen table of mine made some decades ago. She saw the Cloud Rise curves shaped into the edge of its top. She noticed the Chinese foot at the base of the piece. She remarked on the table, admired its shapes, color, wood. These details were ones that I had put in to train myself at the bench. They made no difference to the integrity of the table. It stood still.
There are efforts we make that have nothing to do with structure, with longevity or use. They are done simply because they are important to me, the builder. They are important to how I feel when I’m done with the piece. That I have given it some character, some part of me as well. These painstaking details are done because they inform the piece. They are a gift of intention by its maker. “Here I hope you enjoy this.”
Nothing more. Done as much for me, the builder, as for the eventual viewer who will never know how many hours it took to create the details that her eyes glanced down to and admired in a few minutes of time. It is how it is.
The work was done for her but also for my own selfish needs to satisfy my simple creative urge. That streak of me-ness that will flash briefly and be seen little more.
Read more of my musings on creativity in my new book: Handmade, Creative Focus in the Age of Distraction.
An image of the first chunk of wood I made into a piece of crude furniture.