Friday, January 16, 2015

Failure... how it relates to my shop and how I view it

I just got done listening to the latest Making It podcast, and as always their jam session on the topic of the biweekly cast hit home.

I'll let you listen to the entire cast, but their topic this episode was Failure. As an artisan, that is a HUGE hurdle to overcome, and honestly one which I struggle to overcome in a major way.  Right now my kickstarter campaign fulfillment has slowed to a crawl.
To my backers, I'll be posting a major update this weekend, once I get some progress made and photos to publish. Not to make excuses, but I've had one really difficult hurdle to make it over and this week I managed to get that accomplished. Now that it is passed I've found it difficult to kick back into gear again.

Overall in my woodworking artisan path, I've had several setbacks, losing my shop space several years back, slowly building my own shop, and even things as simple as a design that just didn't work out.  Bob had a comment where he said the only failure is the one which you just give up on. And it hit me there have been a bunch of project level failures along my path. Their spin on it was that so long as you learn from your mistakes and can manage to not go down that pathway again, you didn't fail, you just took a detour.  I "suppose" that is true if you look at the big picture. I find it hard to let go of some of those mistakes however.

Towards the end of the 'cast they were discussing how craftsmen throughout the ages have made do with what nowadays would be considered substandard tools, yet made incredible pieces. That really hit home for me. My shop is filled with what most woodworkers call the 'starter' toolset.  I've always had to buy just 'enough' tool to get the job done. Is there a better tool out there to do ____ task? absolutely, but Ive always had to finagle and work around my tool and skill-set limitations.  Most of those setbacks are just things I did wrong that I had to work around, some were and are more serious and I continue to cope with the situations that arose. Right now the big issue I'm facing is the power situation to my shop. I've been 'down' for almost a month because I had several circuit breakers which failed. I'm no electrician, and it took me that long with the holidays new job and just plain miscommunication with the company I hired to get the tech in to do the repairs. Now that it is fixed I can turn the lights back on AND run the DC, the table saw and whatnot. For awhile I couldn't do that, I could have light, or tools, but not both.

Another sub-topic they mentioned was that 'we' build or make things for different reasons vs those who went before us. We make things because we want to, vs have to. That is true to a point in my case. I make things, cutting boards, bowls, etc... as a hobby which has turned into a side job. I have made, and will continue to make things for my family which we Need and can't afford otherwise. Ie, I've made beds for all three of my boys as they were growing up, plus my wife's and my own bed. They're not fancy, but they hold up the mattress and haven't fallen apart yet. I'm typing this post sitting at a student desk I built a few years back for my eldest son. He moved out and left it behind, and it is far from fancy. But it does the job, it holds our computer, printer and clutter.  The list could go on with a bunch of things I've made in the house. They're not commercial quality, but they are used every day.  Someday, when a few more bills get knocked down, I would like to redo several of the rough and ready projects I've made, but that's a reflection of my growth as a craftsman vs any inherent problem with the piece itself.

On the personal front, my job which I mentioned in my last post is going great! I've settled back in with the office and drivers at the terminal. I Love what I do, and I'm having a blast each and every day. It has its stressful moments, but that's the Trucking industry for you.  After two years of courier work, which was rewarding to a point, I really feel like i'm back making a difference in what I do.  Currently the shift I'm working on is a bit tough to get shop time around, but that's due to change in a couple of weeks, I hope.  The biggest boon from the job is now set up, my family has health care again after a hiatus because we simply couldn't afford it before even with Obamacare.

OK off to work. catch up with you folks later!

Thanks to Jimmy Bob & David for the spark for this post.

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