My dad gave me the gift of woodcraft when I was a child. I grew up watching him, and later helping him, make furniture in the garage, and a lot of what he made is still in good use. I expect I’ll inherit some of it one day, and it’ll go on being of good use in my own home. The craft he gave me has served me well for my entire life. I built a violin when I was writing The Fiddler’s Gun, and though it’s far from a masterpiece, I’m still proud of it. Every time someone picks it up and plays it, I get a little tear in the corner of my eye. I built two cedar canoes a few years ago and that experience was something very akin to a love affair. It’s hard to spend months caressing the curve of a handmade boat without coming to feel a strange affection for it–an affection that’s doubled when it’s set afloat for the first time. I read a quote once that went something like this: “Happiness is crossing a still water in a vessel of your own making, and landing upon an undiscovered isle.” If you’ve ever built something and seen it put to good use, you’ll understand how true that statement is.
A few days ago, Dave Bruno shared the following short film from the Christianity Today website. It’s about a furniture maker named Harrison Higgins, and I wonder if he might tell us that “Happiness is sitting down in a chair of your own making to eat a well-prepared dinner.” The act of creation, the craftsman says, can be either a sacrament or a sacrilege, depending on how we approach our work. The film is only about 5 minutes long, but it’s something like a love letter to the art of woodcraft–a subject near and dear to me.
Watch it here: Furniture Fit for the Kingdom. And then read this excellent article about it: Artificial Grace: Why the Creation Needs Human Creativity. Special thanks to Dave Bruno for bringing this to our attention on the Facebook Hutchmoot page.
Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he’s the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.