That dude had way too little sex.
-overheard at the fabulous studley exhibit
The first real woodworking event I ever attended was the first WIA, in Berea, KY in 2008. It stands out in my mind for a lot of reasons, but mostly for the people I first met there. Many of them would become some of the best friends I’ve made in my adult life, and as a group have been stunningly influential on me. While I’d been seriously considering selling planes, after attending I would have sacrificed goats, limbs, and most of my vital organs to angry pagan gods for just the chance to be involved in this little world.
Nothing I’ve done since has managed to eclipse the intensity of worldview-shattering that happened to me in Berea. Nothing until Handworks 2015.
When people ask me if I had a ‘good show’, what they mean most often is if I sold a lot of planes. My response is always pretty equivocal on that front. In reality, that’s really never what makes a show good or bad for me. What I gauge the success of an event on is how high the adrenaline of enthusiasm runs when I get home. After a good event, I’m practically shaking to get into the shop, or get a pad and pencil to get ideas out. As someone who lives more or less like a hermit (albeit one with an intensely loud and anarchic family) most of the time, I need these gatherings desperately to give me a regular infusion of creativity and energy.
Man – did I get that last weekend. The list of projects and ideas I came back with is overwhelming. Fortunately, I also came back with the neurochemistry of a frat boy who just discovered spring break, so I might just have the energy to get some of them pulled off.
The other thing that stood out for me about Handworks was the average age, and the stunning level of skill, among the attendees. Every single person who wandered into the space I shared with Konrad Sauer was not just familiar with hand planes, they had obviously logged a lot of hours using them. Every single one. That may not sound shocking, but trust me when I say it was really unusual from my perspective. Between that and the sheer number of people who were in their twenties or thirties, I was fantastically heartened about the future of woodworking.
I came home with two objects that I’m really really thrilled with.
First is a spoon made by Jarrod Stone-Dahl. I absolutely love this spoon for all the reasons I outlined in this post about Seth Gould’s work. Even if you aren’t interested in spoon making (or spring-pole lathes, basketry, birchbark canoeing, etc.) Jarrod’s blog is one of my favorites for his serious thoughts on craft and wood.
Second was an incredible gift from a friend with an overdeveloped sense of generosity. Bill Carter is one of my favorite toolmakers, and when I opened this I would have been dangerously close to spoiling my curmudgeonly reputation if I wasn’t such a badass. Maybe the nicest gift I’ve ever received.
Even though I took an unbelievable amount of pictures (if zero is unbelievable, that is), you’re in luck if you want to see more because Bartee Lamar has a really spectacular collection of photos from the show at his blog.
Finally, because Jameel Abraham goes apoplectic if he doesn’t see my stooges t-shirt at least once a quarter, here’s a shot Konrad took in the hotel bathroom.