I know it's a small thing, but your choice in writing implements can say a lot about you. Do you carry a simple plastic tube with cheap ink, or do you hold a solid, well-made piece that makes an impression? Or do you not carry anything at all? A pen holds stories and signatures, words and dreams, and you can make one that leaves an impression every time you put some words to that page.
That's why you should carry something impressive, and why you definitely should make your own.
In his continued bid to take over much of the world's media channels, Anthony Bourdain has partnered with the producers of Balvenie Scotch Whisky on an online program that is truly exceptional. In the process of producing the first batch of episodes, he met with some of the most extraordinary craftspeople in the United States (and ended up walking away with some Bob Kramer knives that certainly left our mouths agape.)
If you want to watch between 7 and 16 minutes of well-produced, craft-heavy, and inspirational material, this series is for you. And lucky us, a new batch of videos just dropped in the last month or so. So if you've already caught up with the initial episodes, there's more to watch.
I got a lathe last year, and soon, the addiction hit hard. There's something incredible about the hands-on approach to shaping wood that makes you lose track of time fast. Like all skills, you need practice. But turning is immensely satisfying work; you can go from a straight block of wood to a finished project in just an hour or two. And crafting heirloom writing instruments is a great way to get started.
As anyone who works with natural materials will tell you, woodworking isn't like other manufacturing practices. Like horseback riding (as opposed to driving a car) there are always little bumps and hiccups that are inherent to the process of churning out a mutual project or end goal with another organic substance. You can't find those problems, you've got to find ways to make them into something, like Frank Howarth did with this wooden bowl...
When Scrap Wood City needed a tiny lathe (smaller than a mini-lathe) to turn truly tiny things, he set out to make his own using a Dremel rotary tool and some wood blocks. A lathe this tiny allowed him to create small furniture, miniature models, and other tiny reproductions that would otherwise require numerous man hours carving them by hand.
There's nothing more impressive than walking through a man's workshop, seeing the cool projects he's working to bring into existence out of nothing, and then realizing that even his tools are made from scratch. I can only fathom the satisfaction and forward momentum one must feel when beginning a hearty new endeavor and seeing the fruits of your past creative labors supporting you in the process of new creation.
There's something incredible about watching a process from start to finish. The transformation from log to finished set of bowls is something already fun to see, but watching a Chinese craftsman do it on a foot powered lathe is something else completely.
What began as a simple conversation turned into a dare, which turned into a very long quest to design and build one man's very own lathe for his woodworking shop. Mike (the woodworker and designer of woodshopmike.com) was short in cash for the tool department and his machinist buddy convinced him that building a lathe would be relatively easy, so with a little research and a lot of hard work, they were off.
I love reading this story of Yale faculty member Scott Strobel, who takes fallen trees from the Yale campus and mills them into large hardwood blanks, which he turns (literally) into hardwood bowls.
Dr. Strobel, who serves as vice president in addition to overseeing lab work in biochemistry and biophysics,
To be filed in your "I Didn't Know This Was Possible" folder - you can turn a jawbreaker on a lathe with traditional woodworking skews and chisels.
Doing so highlights what's so fun about eating jawbreakers in the first place: the many laminiated layers of color, which slowly get revealed as the candy is removed.