For fiber arist Leisa Rich, making is what keeps her alive...more
You are here
Why I Make: Filling the Empty Nest
I always thought a college education was a broadening experience, but a life self-teaching provided wide-open possibilities. After being self-employed for 30 years and raising a family, I faced empty-nester syndrome with a smile and open arms. It was time for me and for doing what I'd always wanted to do: make things with my hands.
I've always been creative, having published poetry and nonfiction and tried Japanese watercolor painting and needlework. What really fascinated me was wood. I don't live where there are any guilds or clubs to soak up the knowledge necessary, so my fist attempts were guided only by library books. It was learning by the old bootstrap method of making mistakes and correcting errors. It quickly became apparent why the books advised starting with square stock for joinery. I made boxes, cradles, and chessboards -giving them all away - and then was introduced to the lathe and began turning wood.
That was a transition.
Life's responsibilities always press inward. There is still work, with bread to be put on the table, care for my elders, and yard work to keep up. But there is still that momentary thrill of being allowed time to enter the shop and stand amid a pile of wood shavings while thinking through the next project.
I use local fruit woods, and the heady scent of apple or cherry or apricot wood fills the shop as I work. Some woods burnish up to a glow without any sanding at all, eliciting a chatoyance as remarkable as a cat's-eye gem when held up to the light. Some are hefty and solid in the hand, giving meaning and balance to what is held. Some are light and thin as spun fabric. And always, always, there are vast surprises when opening a piece of wood: roiling patterns of color and grain and figure that don't reveal themselves from the outside. Each is a gift.
That others can appreciate what I find inside the wood is also a gift. Accolades and praise are always nice, but the satisfaction of creating things can best be summed up in my favorite quote from a 10-year-old, when she told her mother: "My Grandma is cool. She makes things. From wood!"
Barb Siddiqui is a self-taught woodworker and a published writer in Wenatchee, Washington. One of the best moments of her day is placing the key in the lock, hearing that satisfying deep click of the latch opening, and rolling up the big garage door to reveal the fully-equipped shop, waiting for the lights to come on inside. All else is endless possibility. See more of her woodworking at BarbS Woodworks.