In 1974 I was just beginning my woodworking career. I had an over-abundance of energy and ambition – everything else, including experience, I was sorely lacking in. This was before I had read any woodworking books. In fact, this was before any of the present-day woodworking magazines even existed.
If you have followed me, you know there came a point in my career, where I left the rules of design behind. In 1974 I had yet to leave them behind – in fact, I had yet to even become aware of their existence. I had few points of reference – just a burning desire to do woodworking.
I was armed with a sabre saw and router, a shop that leaked and a craving to learn. I was selling my wares on the North Arcade of the Pike Place Market in Seattle – and having a great time of it.
Back then, on the rare occasion that I signed my work – it was in pencil. It is my current hope that most of those pencil marks have faded with time. However, there are some designs from that period that (I think) revealed a glimmer of hope. One in particular was a simple coat rack.
I have recently resolved to revisit some of my past work – and do a re-do. Some of these re-do’s will add back in features and design elements, that at the time, were deemed too time consuming or expensive for production. Others will warrant a re-do because I feel they were left unresolved. The coat rack falls into this second category.
Even back in 1974, I knew when a design was not quite right. Actually most, if not all, of my work was “not quite right“ back then. As my Dad would say though – it was “an honest effort”. It was the best I could do at the time.
It was an enlightening experience to focus my attention on work from so long ago. In re-visiting, I realized the impetus for the coat rack design has been with me all along. In essence, it is what continues to fuel my work to this day. Back then it was not something I could easily draw upon though. The vision was unclear. It was something that required many years to mature. It resides somewhere between inspiration and intuition and in a sense is linked to both. It is my personality – who I am. It is my unique tweak on life. As far as value, goes it is neither here nor there – it is simply me.
Life has calibrated us all to a unique frequency. We all look at the world from a different perspective. Everyone has something different to say. Honest art is an expression of our unique calibration as seen through the lens of life’s experiences. While some art may personally appeal to me more than others – I realize in the larger scheme of things, my individual preferences have little value. Honest art is as diverse as there are individuals on earth.
The coat rack design is not anything extraordinary. It is a very simple piece. For me though, the way-back experience was edifying. It was deeply personal and more. It allowed me to further understand myself and my work a little better and in a broader sense more fully understand the essence of art itself.
Honest art articulates who we are. It is unique to each individual. I realized this years ago, but my little trip in the WABAC machine has served to reinforce this belief.