My sweetie is the best really, and game for going to a fiber festival. We wander up and down the tents, he stopping to talk about bison fiber, how do you use it, how do you spin it. I am a novice I say, not so much apologetically as uncertain. The woman who seems most knowledgeable, feet resting comfortably on her spinning wheel as she talks to us, says what I thought, the long hairs too coarse and no twist, the short hairs too short. My assessment was correct, just never spoken. Perhaps my pirate can use the long hairs to make a cord for his knife making enterprise. My goal here is to get a new drive belt for my spinning wheel, and two starter kits, one for a student, and one for my friend’s daughter. I find two inexpensive ones, one which is a phenomenal spin, solid, stable, balanced, not pretty but quite impressive. I stop at a booth and try some unusual spindles. The proprietor is not pretty, he makes me think of my daughter’s father in his gnarled hippy state. He talks the talk, speaks of physics, of centripetal force, and spins per minute. I try both a low spin and a high spin, they are strange bulbous spindles. After several tries, I am perplexed. Hm, it wants to spin in the wrong direction. Too much twist in your roving, she says. It wobbles, I say. It is not the spindle, he tells me, it is the spinner. You must let it fall perfectly straight or it will wobble. Ok, I say. Thank you. Meanwhile I wander up and down the rows, I buy roving from a man whom I like, something in his eyes. I buy roving from a woman I met at one of these years ago. I touch bags of soft wool, and silk, and bamboo. I think he was trying to bamboozle me. I think. I think. I say as I spin the dark and blond spindle, first this one, then that one which drops a lot, then a third. Which is the one. The pirate now rejoins me. He watches as the spindle falls, no wobble and spins like it will never stop. He laughs, its not the spindle he says. I nod as I wrap my yarn round. It is a beautiful spin, isn’t it, and balanced beautifully. The sales woman talks of their efforts to balance to perfection. She tells me, I see you are not so much a novice, you started that spindle with no draft, and you are spinning a nice yarn.
Last summer at the Stone Tool show in Letchworth State Park, we found this bin of cypress knobs, one of them had been painted and I thought they were quite beautiful, but most beautiful of all was the form and natural beauty of the wood. It looks to me like a bird, or a dolphin.
It is cold outside as I sit on the steps of the deck, catching an occasional whiff of the boiling bones of beaver and fox and raccoon that the Pirate is preparing for his own art. I beg for one, which I want to make into a doll. I can see it, in my mind’s eye. I am searching for the long grains and areas that seem to whirl like fingerprints in the wood. I marvel at how beautiful it is on this small close scale. I mark out the flaws and edges of flaws and the areas where there are cracks, finding that even the broken places are graceful, are stunning to look on. I find myself wishing that the tips of the pens were pointier, more durable. I find myself reminded of the Haida people’s wood carvings and painted animals it makes me curious if they too look to the inner beauty the structural beauty of the wood itself. The grain of the wood lends itself beautifully to the freestyle doodling that I love to do so much.
A couple weeks ago, when we were traveling through the Adirondacks, the pirate and I came upon this wonderful shop on Route 8 near Chestertown and Wevertown. We had the plan to go towards Fort Ticonderoga from my friends place in the vicinity of Gore Mountain, but the plan was open and flexible and as soon as we saw the wooden motorcycle (which I somehow managed to not get a good picture of) and the free form shed structures outside we both looked at each other and decided to stop.
At first we went into the mineral, fossil and bead shop, where of course I found a lovely little grey agate elephant, and the pirate bought a several long African porcupine quills. There were some lovely stone sinks, and hand carved stone art also in the shop, again really unique and beautiful stuff, but what really struck me was the amazing wordwork of Master Woodscrafter whose name I believe is Lynette. After we had purchased our items from the gem shop, she invited us to take a look around at her woodshop.
Just the sheer beauty of the truly unique wood pieces that she had around the shop waiting to be worked, was breath taking. I am afraid my photos on this grey day just do not do justice to the stunning natural quality of the unworked pieces.
It was however her intricately crafted cabinets which most impressed me. I first noticed her amazing little dollhouse. It was like the house of a wood nymph or fairy, an absolute masterpiece of work, with a gorgeous gemstone fireplace, and a hidden doorway.
Then we saw this little cabinet, that used the different colored species of wood, and the naturally formed shapes of the wood itself to create not just a cabinet, but a painted canvas. I love that unlike typical furniture which seeks to look exactly the same as every other piece, it sought to find the intrinsic qualities of each cut of wood, and to showcase it in its natural state. In each of the cabinets she showed us there were hidden compartments which were like opening a treasure box, or stealing into an old castle and finding secret passageways, there was a magic to each piece. The bar was so well thought out, with a wine rack, glass rack, bottle compartments and other places to store glasses, with an eye to keeping things out of reach of little hands. The pirate and I were both astonished at the incredible mastery of this artisan.