I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist and art director
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

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Friday, January 4, 2013


My sisters and I used to climb our wild cherry tree.  I’m the little one that still needed help.  I remember it as a big tree, but it doesn’t really look very big in the photo.  Maybe everything looks big when you’re small.  The tree got hit by lightning in the historic 4th of July storm when I was 8.  The tragic tree death was reduced to firewood stacked up on the side of the shed, and Dad kept handling it and commenting that it was a good, hard wood with a pretty color.  He started carving.

We had an old anvil bolted onto the workbench in the garage.  The anvil was a relic from Mom’s string of blacksmith ancestors.  Dad clamped a chunk of our tree in the vise, and happily banged at it for hours.  The first attempts weren’t spectacular, but they were interesting and functional.  He got better at it the more years he banged away in the garage, and at some point the wild cherry wood wasn’t used in the fireplace any more.

This hawk, or maybe eagle, wasn’t his best, but it wasn’t his worst either.  Mostly it’s mine, and I’m glad to have something my dad made with his own hands out of our tree on an anvil of my ancestors.  Maybe part of its significance to me is that it helps me understand my father better.  Dad died in an accident when I was a teenager.  My memories are of paternal dictatorship, sometimes a benign dictatorship and sometimes not, but never equal – and even so, we were compatible.  I understand his carving, his need to do it, his sense of accomplishment when he managed to make thin wings out of wood.

…Which is not to say that I have Dad’s skill with things with sharp edges.  When I was little, Dad gave me a jackknife, and Mom took it away.  This happened a bunch of times, and I’ll admit Mom had good reason to take my knives away even if Dad seemed to think whittling was a necessary part of childhood.  It just isn’t one of my better skills.  I’ve quit counting my hospital visits and figure my artistic endeavors should remain 2-dimensional.

That doesn’t mean I don’t ignore this lesson sometimes.  I used to live at a place that had a big barn full of feral cats and lumber.  I’m from the era when girls weren’t allowed to take woodshop, so my only training for the table saw was from public tv shows and an ex-boyfriend who told me I wasn’t allowed near his tools.  He was probably right about that, but when confronted with a barnful of wood, I decided to give it a shot and made a plant stand.

I suppose if I actually had taken woodshop, I might have a better idea how to make a plant stand, but no, I learned how to make peanut butter cookies and a blue stuffed dolphin in home economics.  I nailed my creation together and felt pretty pleased with myself – until I picked it up by its top and the top popped off.  I found wood glue, screws, and screw plugs in the barn and made more plant stands.  Just like Dad’s carving, I got better.

After the world was littered with plant stands, I made bookshelves, ottomans, and a coffee table.  I’m not claiming that any of this stuff was good, but I made them and felt happy.  The pinnacle of my woodworking success was a bench.  I was feeling so pleased with myself, I decided to carve it too.  7 stitches later, the bench looked pretty good and I quit woodworking.  I feel the temptations sometimes.  The wood calls to me.  I can envision really great walking sticks in it, but somebody else will have to make them.  I really don’t enjoy getting stitches.


  1. A carved bench. My, my, my. The talents of this woman will just never cease.

    I have a few stained glass lampshades my father made so I share the value you feel for things your dad made.

  2. Yes, I have limitations to my talents. I'm not good at all with stained glass. I have the ideas, but execution suffers. I had to have my brother finish my last project for me -- in other words Rand, good for your dad to make lampshades and leave them to you! I'm sure your dad is glad you're there to enjoy them.

  3. Goodness me Linda, what talents you have. That is an awesome bench...it would look great in my garden ;0) How wonderful to also have some woodwork from you dear Dad made with wood from your childhood tree. Things like that really make me smile. Happy new year to you too,
    Jane x

  4. So great that you still have the bird your Dad carved so long ago! Another great post!

  5. Some tv shows have given hoarding a bad name :) Thanks for the comments!

  6. Linda, that is such a cute childhood photo with you and your sister climbing that extremely big and high tree in a joined effort.
    I understand your hesitation for wood projects, they are never easy, but always demanding. I recently made a Zen stool. That doesn't take much: just remove the bark and do a bit of polishing and there you have a Zen stool. But still: boy did my muscles ache and all the lifting gave me a backache. The Zen stool is lovely and I'm happy with it, but next time I limit myself to soapstone. You, however, should continue with woodwork!
    I'm looking forward to more wood art by you in 2013.

  7. It makes me smile to look at that photo with my sisters. Now I'm contemplating my need for a zen stool. I'm thinking belt sander. Thanks for the idea!

  8. With much regret, I have been off the IF site for several months. Unfortunately, I have also missed following several of my favorite blogs. Reading your post this week made me realize just how much I have lost. Thanks for your continued inspiration.

  9. I love your bench. I'm not just saying that either. Wood speaks to me also. I think you should try again with wood. You'll need a bench lathe. I'm sure you will be able to handle that with no problem. As to your boyfriend that told you to stay away from his tools was a real tool and probably jealous of your talents.

  10. I think this only shows that everything is possible and rules about what girls or boys should or should not do are only obstacles for personal development. In my opinion your father did right in giving you a knife, thus giving you a new way to explore your creativity. Nice to have such lovely concrete memoirs of your father. I wish you all the best for the new year, Linda.

  11. Thanks! I'm wishing all of you the best in the new year too! Dad probably did better in making sure I was kept supplied in Crayons though. The exboyfriend had some reasons to think I should be kept away from sharp things :)