Saturday, April 10, 2010
A Study In Character - Rebecca's Shelf
Sometimes it's nice to be reminded that our work doesn't have to be perfect. The value or worth of a piece is not only measured by the quality of its construction; character counts. Sometimes, character is the main attribute.
Here's a case in point. Rebecca has a small wooden shelf in her kitchen. It sits on the counter next to the stove and keeps her most used items close at hand.
But it has flaws - a lot really. When seen from the standard woodworker perspective, it has serious problems. The top is warped - badly. The joints have failed and been repaired numerous times; it's nailed like a kids' tree fort and has awkward corner brackets. And it seems so plain - just four sticks and two boards, four dados and four rabbets.
And yet, there is another way of seeing it. It has character - a lot really. Its plainess is part of its charm. Sometimes simple is better than complex. The top, although warped, is stained with cooking oil and sauces from thousands of home cooked meals (and Rebecca is a fabulous cook). The nails speak of someone caring enough for this piece to not throw it in a landfill or burn it in a fire. It's made of wood, not plastic. Its surface ages gracefully, absorbing life and reflecting it back. It's around for the long story, not the short, disposable life.
This piece has character, and it counts. Rebecca says "Those shelves have been in every kitchen I've had." I'd love for someone to say something like that about one of my pieces. Yeah, it's not always about perfection - character counts too.