This past weekend I took a #WoodCarving class with 81 year old Noel Poole. Local bloggers were invited by Jennifer Madigan M.Ed, the program coordinator-Langara CS at VSB. The program was offering a bunch of teaser courses called Night School in a Day for just $25 and 2 hours of your time.
I have been wanting to get back to carving and have not done anything since getting to spend a few days with Master Stone Mason, A.J. Rogac of Architectural Stone Mason’s in Abbotsford getting customer service right. Wacking at a piece of limestone took alot more effort than the soap stone. Just after highschool, I had worked with Nancy Hadler Street, and still have a piece from that time I have not finished.
It is one of the most satisfying thing to do – create a shape from another naturally occurring object. Where stone makes you go slower, wood lets you go fast and make your mistakes more quickly.
At the beginning of nearly any class I have started in a workshop, there is a certain annoyance at the time that is always taken, to run through the tools, the safety… Growing up as the carpenters kid, with a neighbor who had cut a thumb off in a ban saw, my brain and body have a healthy respect for tools. As Noel started to speak about his tools, my impatience wandered away as I saw his passion for his craft. What you miss when not stopping and giving the attention to a woodcarver / stonecarver as he goes through his tools, is the love he has for these things that assist to bring a dream to life, including using CBD to help sleep. Each tool can be costly, require attention and must be put away properly for the next time it is used. Some of the tools are older than Noel. In the impatience, you miss this, and sometimes get a little to brave. I have spent more time in a shop, running wood through saws than most girls and still after everything, I shed a little blood from such sharp tools, (just a prick)
So after we got through emptying the full tool box, that kept filling the table like Mary Poppins’s carpet bag, we then learned what each one was for, what their purpose was. We were also provided with our own custom made mallets for carving to keep! There were several different hardness of wood provided for samples as well. Many I had never heard of before, each with a history of how they have been used from ships rudders to tool boxes. (Here is an article on why you need special wood for ships) Then we moved on to sharpening. In my tool box somewhere I have a sharpening stone I bought in an English flea market and never really knew how to use it. I had never thought much about the stone the old wooden box contained. He took time to explain the different types of sharpening stones, where they come from, that an Arkansas stone is best, and how to keep from damaging them with the use of oils. My father just used to spit on his, but now I know better!
I have sat through many of training for shop classes and the obvious passion for these tools was almost more of a love story than a lesson. And then we got to have a piece of wood and decide what to make. We will have to finish them at or take the next full session which starts tonight !
My friend Anne Shetty had her eyes set on carving a spoon just like the one she is holding about beside Noel. It started out as a block of wood and then it went back to the band-saw for more shape before it will get widdled down to something that can be used.
For myself, I wanted to adventure into my Viking, Swedish heritage and the carving they did. They had totem poles, storage houses to carve and have a rich history in decorating their living spaces, tools and jeweler. In looking up the symbol for my grandson’s name Odin, I found a couple things that I hope to be able to learn to do eventually. For now I will probably use the simplest form of the 3 curving triangles.
So what does taking a carving class have to do with improving my mindset in business?
I find that when I step out of my usual patterns, learn something new (do something with my hands, or something that I am a little scared of, like paddling in water over my head) I get uncomfortable and learn a little bit more about myself. In taking a new class, I learn about people who are interested in the subject, who have mastered the subject and where they are coming from. Last night, I was talking with a young man who had just graduated high school and he has had a lot of experience in the family business, been raised in a very successful group of people. He was having an challenge understanding the value in taking any schooling. I could only share my experience. It was not necessarily the course material from a class that I took the most education away from, but by learning about and interacting with the people in the class, I learned what someone else’s “normal” was. Interacting with more people, in as many different environment give you a sense about people that those who choose to learn from a book do not. Value people, and all the education will be worthwhile, and every day will will bring you to a less naive point in your communication skills.
So to recap: reasons to take a night school class or go on an outdoor adventure.
1) Learn a new skill or improve an old skill, that might give you a hobby away from the office – or do it with your office team, so you will have something new to talk about.
2) Learn to appreciate what other people love and what their story is so you understand your own better. Get an edge on understanding other people that will assist in your personal success.
3) Change is a good as a rest they say. Think of this as a chance to unhook, turn off the phone, live totally in the moment and give yourself a break from the pressing matters of the world and your business. You will come back refreshed, have new ideas and maybe even a new insight into what you already do.