Apprenticeship Day 29
I've already written why I think everyone should carve a spoon. It's a magical process, taking round wood that still looks like it came from a tree and using simple tools quickly shape it into a useful object. In classes I run I've had absolute beginners create a functional piece of woodenware in as little as a few hours. With some experience it's possible to carve great spoons in not much time at all.
It's fortunate that I feel this way about spoons, as today was solidly focused on spoons. I continued to refine the spoons Jarrod had drawn his designs on. I spent all morning getting them ready for Jarrod to work on. In the afternoon Jarrod was putting the finishing touches on them while I did some rough hollowing on them.
Jarrod and I have spent a lot of time working side-by-side. Most of it is spent in silence. Well, I say silence. There's Jarrod's music. Which I'm still contractually obliged to say is fantastic. Turning can also be quite noisy. Especially hollowing, when you're looking into a parabolic dish reflecting back all the noise of the cuts you're making. I also find it hard to talk while turning because it still takes most of my concentration.
When you get into a nice rhythm with spoon carving, you can often hold a conversation while working on your spoon. Jarrod and I had a really great chat about craft business, our various plans for the future, both short and long term and some of our experiences trying to make a living from craft.
Conversations like the one we had today were a big motivating factor behind me taking this apprenticeship. Jarrod has been extremely generous with his knowledge. Not only of woodworking, but also giving me insights into how Woodspirit Handcraft runs as a business. This afternoon we spoke frankly with one another about how much money we each made over the last year, with Jarrod explaining the various sources his came from: mainly selling his work, but also from teaching classes and a few other projects. This kind of insight into how a craft business can be run is invaluable.
Jarrod has been a professional woodworker since 1996. I think I was still playing with my Action Man dolls in 1996. So, on a similar thread to Monday's article I'd be smart to not compare myself to him too closely. I'd also be smart to not try and use his business model as a template. Just because it works for him, it doesn't mean it'll work for me. There is however a trove of information he has that I can learn from. I knew that learning the business side of things would be a lot more intangible than learning the craft side of things. Conversations like the one we had today have provided me with a great deal to think about. They haven't arose out of Jarrod intending to teach me this or that about how he runs his business, but the opportunity for us to chat, and his willingness to answer my questions has provided me with a lot of insights into his business practices.
We'll work on spoons a little more tomorrow, and maybe we'll talk about business stuff, maybe we'll sit in amiable silence. Or perhaps he'll tell me again about how he invented the axe.