“I’ve made a lot of mistakes. That’s what the woodfire pile is for.” – Jonathan Smyer
I try to think why exactly I got into it so much.
Working with my hands is pretty much the main thing. Taking the tree and finding something functional inside it. If I split it just right, we get a ladle. You cut it, and you’re involved in the process from beginning to end.
Anybody can really do it. All you need is a straight knife, a spoon knife, and an axe. With those three tools I can make a nice spoon.
They do these things called spoon circles. Everybody will start with a blank, essentially. They’ll carve on it for 5-10 minutes and then pass it. Eventually when you’re done you end up with a spoon that’s been carved by however many people are in the circle. There’s not many people down here that are that interested in it, but it’s something I’d love to do. Get around and carve spoons by the fire.
I have so many. It’s hard to let them go, but there’s no sense in hanging onto them. They’re meant to serve a purpose, not just hang on the wall.
Form and function go together. Obviously we all know what a spoon looks like, so there’s that form in your mind. But you can put your own spin on it.
There are definite parallels between woodworking and beer. People throw the word artist, artisanal around but really beermaking is craft. You’re making something for people to consume. To use. It’s more craft than art, I think, because people are using it instead of just looking at it.
The grain of the wood provides strength. That’s why you follow the grain, so it doesn’t break. You can see through them sometimes, and so that’s a clear sign that you should be done.
But I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Taken it down too far with the axe. Sometimes, you need to fail. If not, you aren’t trying hard enough. That’s what the woodfire pile is for.
This thing that I love so much has given me more trouble than anything in my whole life, but it is teaching me every day to trust other people.
The mess allows me to make connections that I couldn’t make if everything was up on a shelf. Sometimes you need to see life out of order to find a new way of doing things.
I’m in a season of waiting. Doing nothing is also doing something. It’s a position of openness. We don’t like being in that space because there’s uncertainty. But that is where art happens.
It’s not just alcohol that needs moderation. We need moderation in life. We go through life drunk on the next high, whatever that is. Even relationships. There’s a beauty in balance that I think gets lost…
The world is always changing. There is a gift of providence in that. A preciousness, and a sense of hope. That every day will close and begin anew…