Evolution #5: Seeking outside influences

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Blog entry by StevenAntonucci posted 11-17-2010 06:40 PM 1465 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Stewardship of our Materials (Part 1) Part 5 of Evolution series Part 6: Making stuff... »

It’s been a while since I’ve written, but I am back.

If you want to be a great woodworker, you need to learn to find outside influences. It is certain that we all start by developing tool skills and following plans, but somewhere along the way, we want to develop our own style. How can you do this?

The best answer to this question is to stop looking at other woodworkers and seek outside influences! It may sound counter-intuitive, but all great artisans have to develop their own voice by finding the things that interest them, and then combining these things together in a unique way to express their aesthetic.

As an example, I have always loved pottery forms, which got me into woodturning Pottery and woodturning are very different (build vs. cut), but share a lot of forms. I have also always loved the heavy glazes, which lead me to try to find a way to reproduce these on wooden forms.

Once you see things you like, you can start to expand your vocabulary. Some days, it’s just a shape. Other days, it may be a whole new set of skills you need to build just to prototype an idea. The point of the journey is the journey.

So what ideas can have I gotten from the outside:

Adding texture via glass
Adding texture via blacksmithing
Using nature to define form
Using mathematics to define form

The purpose of this entry is to get you thinking about where you can find influence instead of who. The best work is produced from the heart. A famous woodturner was credited with with being able to “pull ideas from his pockets”. When asked how he did it, he said “I’ve spent a lifetime filling my pockets”.

Go fill your pockets.

-- Steven

3 comments so far

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 4402 days

#1 posted 11-17-2010 09:24 PM

Really like the bit about spending a lifetime filling your pockets! Still working on that…

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Maveric777's profile


2694 posts in 4538 days

#2 posted 11-18-2010 12:09 AM

Good thoughts Steven. It’s funny I read this right after jotting down a quick sketch and thoughts on a future project I would like to try. I was walking through Target earlier today and seen something in the electronic games section that I thought was interesting. Sitting here hours later the item I seen to just pop back into my head, but with a twist. After just sitting here thinking about it I came up with a crazy cool idea (well at least to me) for another box. I just love how that works…

I agree it could be very beneficial to a woodworker (or any form of artist for that matter) to look outside the “Norm” for fresh ideas. Good stuff!

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View mmh's profile


3701 posts in 5184 days

#3 posted 11-18-2010 07:23 AM

Actually I think I have more freedom than most properly taught wood workers because I don’t have any traditional knowledge of wood working. I am being taught and am learning a few basic techniques that I use for my current projects. I have never made a box or right angled object in wood (although I have assisted), so I don’t think in planes or right angles. I have a very organic, non-geometric sense of design. Sometimes this can get me in trouble, but the only flat surfaces and right angles I worry about are getting the pieces to line up to glue on a dowel or tenon. Once that is in place, I’m can alter my designs as I go.

Since my canes must be ergonomic this somewhat limits my designs, but that’s part of the challenge. It can also be inspiring because the hand can form so many shapes and angles that the combinations available are abundant.

I have some jewelry and pottery background along with culinary, koi ponding and gardening interests. I am always looking at forms from nature and also like sculpture and architectural influences. I like to watch science, discovery, history and nature shows and sometimes mute the sound just to see the visual images. Nature has such an abundance of forms, shapes, colors and textures that you can view them up close or afar and get many images to refer to.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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