Updated: Sep 5
As I have continued removing surplus interior wood from the Maple bowl that I started in the previous blog, I began thinking about dealing with boredom during slow moments. Removing the unwanted center of a bowl is a slow and pretty boring, but essential step in creating a finished bowl. It occurred to me that even the most exciting and creative processes generally contain some boring elements and it is necessary to develop a technique to deal with this and turn it into something positive.
I remember well when, in my previous life, I ran a busy consulting laboratory practice, I was frequently heard to say that I had the best job in the world. It was constantly exciting and challenging. I had no idea what I would be called upon to do the next day, or even where, as we worked all over the country as well as internationally. But thinking about it, I realized, like everything else, that it did contain some boring and repetitive bits. There were essential tasks that simply had to get done. Rather like eating your vegetables so that you can get to the chocolate dessert!
So, I got to thinking about how to turn the boring bits into something more interesting. Gardeners will recognize how, during the weeding process, one can gain some satisfaction and actual therapy from weeding. A boring but essential task. Of course one can release or transfer a great deal of frustration in the yanking of the weeds from the ground or one can simply slip into a zen-like trance. One can, of course, let your mind wander and think about other things, plot and plan. (How to take over the world if you remember the charming lab mouse from Pinky and the Brain!) As a gardener, clearing an area of weeds is very satisfying in itself, but as a woodturner, it is essential, even when doing the boring bits, to be fully engaged and aware of what you are doing every second of the time, as a careless, inattentive nano-second can result in chaos and disaster. You can destroy your bowl or vessel in a heart-beat or even suffer serious injury, so "zoning out" is out!
Perhaps this is one of the things that I really like about #woodturning, the necessity to be totally focused, it is wonderful to be able to "block out" virtually everything else and simply focus of a very creative and satisfying task that has a tangible result.
I recognize that, for me, a fairly fast creative process that produces a beautiful and pleasing article pretty quickly is a definite plus. I find that woodturning is a very "instantly creative" process. Every tiny move that you make with a tool results in an instant and tangible result. Sometimes not quite what you were expecting and sometimes not particularly pleasing and some fixing is required, but all in all, very satisfying. #instantlycreative
Of course the other part of the pleasure, for me, is the unknown bits. When one is working with something organic like a chunk of wood, you never really know what you are going to find. Sure, there are large lumps of wood that do exactly what you expect, you can pre-plan the outcome fairly accurately, as long as you don't do anything weird and wonderful. But the fun comes when you find unexpected lumps and bumps inside you chunk of wood, or, of course, you start off with a really challenging piece! It could be super tiny or gigantic. It could be really dense and hard to work, but for me, the most fun is the #spalted wood that is ready to fall apart and the challenge is keeping it together long enough to turn it into something beautiful.
For the uninitiated, #spalting is an organic process that basically rots the wood if left too long. Fungal growth lays down lines and patterns in the wood and turning it at just the right moment where it has rotted enough that the wood is beautiful but not enough to shatter and turn to dust, is the trick! In the "turned wood" section of this website I have several Spalted Maple pieces where I say: "Finding spalted maple is like discovering truffles in a forest! Spalted maple is born when fungus transforms maple wood by creating unique lace patterns. The wood is extremely challenging to turn making a large Spalted Maple piece rare and very special indeed!"
But, back to the beginning of this blog, I have now finished my huge Maple wood bowl, it cracked badly during the process which meant that I had to be very liberal with the repair glue, which of course, results in rather unsightly lines. I could spend hours and hours sanding, but they will still be there. But, for me, the glue lines are actually OK. They force me to find creative ways of decorating the bowl in order to produce something beautiful. I would be happy to read your comments on how you deal with boredom and, of course, interested to hear how you would finish this bowl! I will put pics of the final project into a future blog so you can see the end result.