Last weekend Derek Brabender and I travelled to Princeton, Minnesota for Carvorama. Organised by Yuri Moldenhauer it's a fun get-together for green woodworkers. Coming in from Madison, WI, about a five-hour drive, I'd guess we were from the furthest away. It's at a great time of year for an event like this, probably the first of the year. In the Midwest at least.
I work hard at staying connected with the wood craft community. Working alone from my little backyard shed I could easily shut out the rest of the world. If I did that I'd be missing out on a lot of opportunities for learning and growth. I do a lot to connect digitally with people: 1,500 people visit this blog a month, over 10,000 people follow my Instagram account, and over 1,400 people 'like' my Facebook Page. I get lots of wonderful questions and comments from followers. But face-to-face connections will always be the best.
To help foster these connections I host a weekly Chop and Chat in Madison for established woodworkers. For people looking to get started I run individual and group classes. I put myself out there as a resource for people that want to develop their skills. As a result some really cool stuff tends to happens.
Fro example, yesterday I met up with Andrew Frase of Otter+Creek+Goods. We met at the Madison Mini Maker Faire. We swapped contact details and have been messaging back and forth for a while. His family have some property outside of Madison that recently had the woodland thinned out. He very generously let me take my pick of the wood that had been cut. I had my little 2002 Honda Civic's suspension working pretty hard on the drive home!
Next week I'll be spending a couple of days in Viroqua, WI with Nicholas Wazeegale. I've met Nicholas a couple of times at the Driftless Folk School Spoon Gathering and at a few other events. He reached out to me suggesting a skill-swap. He's looking for pointers on spoon carving, and is offering to show me how to make birch bark containers.
The craft community is filled with people looking to connect through making. Working in isolation can be limiting. By involving yourself with the community, new opportunities for growth will present themselves. No matter your level of ability or the depth of your interest, put yourself out there and good things will happen.