by the Artist
I was at the library recently and this title caught my eye "Hammer Head: the making of a Carpenter" by Nina MacLaughlin. I brought it home. It's the story of a newspaper journalist who made a decision which changed the trajectory of her life.
"I used to be a journalist. Now I work as a carpenter. The transformation, like the renovation of a kitchen, happened first in big bashing crashes and now has slowed as it gets closer to complete. In college, I studied English and Classics and engaged in the abstractions of ancient history and literary theory. A journalism job followed, and with it, continued interactions with intangibles (the internet, ideas, telling stories with words.) The world around me, material reality— the floors and cabinets, the tables, decks and bookcases— all of it was real enough to knock or kick, but it was an afterthought, taken for granted, obscured by the computer's glow. After nearly a decade working at a desk in front of a screen, I longed to engage in the tangible, to do work that resulted in something I could touch, I grew more interested in making a desk then sitting at one".
I dare say there aren't many stories on this subject! Not only making the choice to change a career path from words to wood, but also being a woman choosing this. I don't know any female carpenters. I think Nicole Curtis of HGTV's Rehab Addict is the only female carpenter I am aware of. And I think for her.. it's more about saving older homes and rescue dogs!
I have often thought about getting more involved with the business. But not as a carpenter- I don't have the physical strength nor the mathematical abilities. No I think in terms of helping to manage the projects- like Jenni on Bravo's Flipping Out. She checks in at the projects and keeps track of details, she helps to maintain the best interests and vision of Jeff the owner. I can see myself doing that. It would help the Carpenter when we have multiple projects going (which we currently do). But… I realize I need to know the craft and the business. I need to at least have a solid working knowledge of what I'm checking. I do think popping in at a job site unexpectedly would be a good thing. At the very least I can get some nice pics!
I'm already gaining insight in the first chapters of this book as the budding carpenter learns the trade– all the ups and downs. She knew absolutely nothing. I'm seeing the craft anew through her eyes. She is making me appreciate the smallest of details. Her story is engaging because she IS good with words. I believe her creative abilities will be an asset to her job. On vacation this past summer I watched our lead Carpenter Adam paint a rock. He saw the rock as a turtle and painted the most beautiful exquisitely detailed shell. Subtle shades of ochre and sand. I had no idea he could paint like that. That is why he is good with details– he makes sure everything fits exactly. Yes being creative is an asset to being a carpenter.
We are currently looking for a new carpenter to join our team. It would be fun to meet a female carpenter. They must be out there. In the meantime we will keep looking and I will be seriously considering how to assist the Carpenter more. I did already suggest starting to do project check-ins.. the Carpenter was at least open to the idea.
I will end this post with one last passage from the book that symbolizes to me the joy in what we do.
"We'd built a way to get from the door down to the ground, a passage and a place to pause, to pile groceries, to stomp snow off boots on the way inside. What a thing!"
Yes what a thing!