Sunday, February 21, 2010

About this blog

So I have finally decided to start writing a blog.

Q:Why now?
A:Why not...

Q:Why blog?
A: I make things. It's what I do. It's what I've always done. From the time when my dad bought me my first jack knife and started widdling sticks in the backyard, I have loved to make things. It's what the majority of my thoughts and energy are devoted to. Since I was little, I recognized that there were three important parts to learning and mastering skills.

The first part is education. To educate yourself you must seek out information about what ever you are setting out to make or do. This information can come from many sources. In the past, it might be a book or a magazine article here or there. Of course, the better option has always been to seek out someone who is willing to show you how they do thing and might share their insight. Now we've got the internets, and there is so much information out there brought straight to our finger tips, and there so many people willing to contribute. I have learned so much from blogs, tutorials, and forums. It's honestly the first place I go if I am curious about something or have a serious question.

The second part is practice. I can over emphasize this enough: I really don't think the real learning happens until you actually try to do a thing. Books, demonstrations, videos are all well and good, but until you put blade to wood, or glass to stone, it's all an academic exercise. Learning really begins with experience- experience builds insight- insight builds confidence- confidence means success. Now, inherent the process is failure. Failure is so important. Failure means setting out to do one thing and the product of turns out different from the desired result. The fact is, failure happens every moment. As I type I am failing every dozen or so key strokes. Am I crippled by my fears of sub-par touch typing? No, not really. I just hit the delete button (over and over and over again) and keep going. It's the same as anything else. It's the subtle way that you might change the skew of a plane mid-stroke to flow with grain in a board of wood or that split second of extra heat on a punty while blowing glass. It's a natural response, a reflex. It's the same with the "catastrophic" failures like making cutting something undersized or backwards, joining something upside down, using the wrong tool for the wrong job, or god forbid hurting yourself or someone around you. These things will happen as well. They must be anticipated when possible, but they will happen time and time again. After all, accidents are called accidents for a reason. It's by correcting the things to don't intend, that you glean the insights that build skill and reach you goals. Of course, there are also the personal failures. For instance, designing something that doesn't work, is ugly, or unpopular. These failures are perhaps more subtle, but potentially more insidious because they can strike at your core of confidence- making you more hesitant to try again. However, these failures can (and should)have the opposite of effect- motivating you to redouble your efforts and driving you forward to the next iteration and ultimate success. Failure is essential to success- they are inseparable (We'll talk lots more about this later)!

Lastly, the third part is dissemination. This, of course, brings me to back to the beginning and the reason why I wanted to write this blog. For as long as I have been learning to make things, I also wanted to show people what I've done and how they can do the same. So much of what I have learned I owe to those people who were generous enough to share their insight and experience. Having had the opportunity to teach others, I have found is a mutually beneficial exchange. It challenges you to formulate your thoughts and really test your methods. I can't tell you how much I have learned from troubleshooting or someone else's problems or fixing their mistakes. Also, and more importantly, enthusiasm is contagious!

Q: So what is this blog going to be about?
A: In simple terms this blog will be about process. I already document everything and this will be an outlet to for me to share some of my experience and my process. It's not my intention to provide full on how-to's or step by step instructions about how to make what I make. However, it's my hope to provide perhaps point of view on how I work, how things are made by hand, and maybe answer some questions along the way. There will probably be a lot of posts about tools. Yes, I am a highly functional tool junkie. The only thing I love more than a shiny new tool, is finding a good old tool clean it up and put it back to work. Also philosophically, want to talk about what tools are and how they are very different from toys. I want to talk about how tools enable amazing things, but are nothing without the hand that holds them or the understanding of care it takes to maintain them. I'll also document projects and the design process-from plan, build, to use. I know it's sounds a bit cliche, but for me making is way of thinking. Process means sorting through concept, craft, physical matter in an attempt to see something which has never existed before. I'll post about things, places and people who inspire me and might inspire others. I hope to provide some insight, or, at the very least, some entertainment. Please bear in might There might be some [a lot] rambling and plenty of typos along the way (as you can probably already tell, I am not much of a proofreader).

This is an experiment. I don't know if this will succeed or fail, but you already know how I feel about that.

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