Saturday, April 7, 2018

Excerpt from "Walking the path of the cabinet maker"

April this year has been cold and windy - very disappointing, and today is no exception. I thought it was high time to put in the effort and clean up some of my files. Delete the old ones and take a stab at reorganizing the rest.  
I came across this article I'd written while learning the art of cabinet-making back in 2001. 
Strangely enough a lot of the soul-searching I had entered into back then is still in the works today. Maybe another time I'll post my thoughts on that subject.




The woodworking classes were small and cozy. Four women to be precise and nobody was interested in competing. It was a supportive group and I was glad to be part of it. We were there to learn and enjoy our apprenticeship.  

The teachers were patient.  Not once was I made to feel inferior, stupid or incompetent as I stumbled along using incorrect measurements or the wrong tools (I'll bet they chuckled behind our backs).  But whatever they privately thought about their first all female cabinet-making class, they kept to themselves.  

The atmosphere was thick with concentration as we jean and boot-clad ladies focused on sorting through the maze of hand tools, new vocabulary (mortise and tenon joining technique, kerf, mitre box WTH?) trying to figure out which tiny line represented the 1/32nd mark on a measuring tape or how to use a hand saw and keep the cutting line straight. 

It was noisy and busy with the ring of hammers on nails, woodchips flying about (duck!), sawdust covering the floor, our aprons and even our hair, when out of the blue I looked up to see our teacher, Gary stepping out of a back room, tea-tray in his hands.
Tea! 
What a treat! In the midst of chaos we were to stop and have tea.

We looked at one another with huge smiles as we shed our aprons and wiped grubby hands on jeans. Gary was already pouring the tea into delicate bone china cups as we gathered round, chatting excitedly as if we'd never had a cup of tea before.

Hmm, he must have a wife somewhere, judging by the pattern of pink roses on the china, I thought to myself. 

Accepting a steaming cup of brew with a splat of milk, I took a sip, closed my eyes and relaxed into the moment. Ahhhhh, it was nice to stop for a bit of a break. 
“Does anybody have a spoon?” 
My eyes flew open.
I looked over at Aggie, searching desperately among the tea things.  
“A spoon?!” The teachers looked up in horror!  
“Naw – just use a piece of wood (that was Chris, teacher #2).  

Ewwww, I thought. 
What a picture we must have made: four dust covered, work-boot clad females sipping our English tea from fine bone china cups decorated with delicate pink roses yet having to stir in milk and sugar with a rough, splintery stick.  
Yup, definitely cozy.

6 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

What a lovely and incredibly evocative picture you have painted.
I am smiling so widely my face is starting to ache - and a little envious.

Anvilcloud said...

I think the whole thing is great: women doing woodwork, stopping for tea with good china, and no spoons.

stardust said...

Dear Wendy - I was so nice to hear from you on my latest post. Your comment made me bring here to realize that you posted some during my blogging break from December to February.

Your writing is superb. I could almost see the ladies’ curious eyes with excitement, hear the sound of pounding or sawing. I could easily imagine the cozy ambience of the group learning woodworking and I know how refreshing to have a cup of tea in the midst of something.

Yoko

Cheryl said...

Oh I am there...you paint such a lovely picture Wendy.

Yes Spring is very fickle.

mxtodis123 said...

Hi Wendy. Hope you are doing well. I've been gone for awhile and have missed out on a lot. Missed all of my friends here.

Rose said...

Great story, Wendy--you have such an eye for detail and creating the scene for the reader. I always wanted to take a woodworking class, but never did. I can't even hammer a nail straight:)