Friday, September 24, 2010
We made it safetly to North Carolina but I've only a few minutes on battery power and can't download any photos, so I thought I'd tell you about a woodland spirit. But please stay tuned for more about the sights, sounds, potteries, and gracious folks in the North Carolina hills.
Several months ago I visited a local wood turner to see how he was using the wood I gave a student of his from two camphor trees we had to cut down. I hated to cut down the trees but they had invaded our leach field and the trees have a very aggressive root system so they had to go.
While I was there I began looking at the wood and became enamored with the unusual grains, knots and imperfections I saw. I vowed to get some planks of wood and incorporate clay with wood. Wood turners use blocks of wood and I needed planks, so I started on a search for the type of wood I wanted.
I searched high and low, but the wood at lumber yards had no imperfections and few knots, and I wanted some wood with character. I placed an ad asking for old wood, pecky cedar or cypress to see if anyone would call. Several weeks later someone in the next town said he might have what I was looking for. He was cutting up old telephone poles. He gave me a piece of wood which had a nice grain, but the smell of the treated wood was strong and I didn't want to use it. Several more weeks went by and then someone else called me from even further away.
Gary and I drove way out in the country down winding and lonely country roads and finally came to the place. We drove down a long driveway into the woods and came upon a Florida cracker house without a lick of paint, porches all around and a tin roof. I was struck by the simple beauty of the unpainted wood which fit in perfectly in the deep woods.
A boy rode up to our car on his bicycle; I told him I'd come to look at some wood. He directed us to drive around the home. As we drove around back I saw the laundry was hung under the eaves of the porch drying out of the dew. I had my camera with me, but out of respect I didn't take a photo of their home, although I dearly wanted to. Out back there was a rundown shed with logs and lumber piled up everywhere and I wondered if I'd come on a wild goose chase. Truth be told I was a little nervous back in those woods and was glad Gary was with me.
A man came out speaking with a thick Southern drawl saying he had lots of wood to look at. The man took me into the shed and I spent time looking through all the wood he had stacked everywhere. While I looked he told me how he looked for special pieces with character. I knew I'd come to the right place.
Gary waited in the car because the mosquitoes were thick, although they didn't seem to bother me that day. The man had some wonderful pieces of wood to look through, full of knots, imperfections, and character. He said he milled the wood himself and wanted to keep the imperfections in the wood intact. He had his favorite planks of lumber sitting here and there waiting for that special piece of furniture or handcrafted item he might make. In the end he was willing to part with a few pieces of lumber I just had to have.
As the shadows of autumn become longer, woodland spirits seem to come alive. This woodland spirit chose it's own piece of wood to reside. The photo is the first in a series of wood and ceramic pieces I've been working on. I like to think this spirit springs from those deep Florida woodlands where a man is milling his favorite pieces of wood.