In a worldin which technological progress continues in leaps and bounds we reach for something permanent, for the solid and the substancial. The need to find an anchor does, I believe partially explain my love of wood and, in particular the many and varied objects which craftsmen produce from timber. When I speak of wood I mean solid timber not ply wood or some combination of wood and other materials such as plastic. Ply wood and combinations of timber and other materials serve a purpose (the desk on which my laptop is resting is made of ply wood and came if memory serves me correctly from MFI), however it is purely a utilitarian piece of furniture possessing no capacity to please the senses.
In contrast objects derived from solid wood delight the senses. I well recall walking into a shop in London (David Wainwright if memory serves me correctly) and taking an immediate liking to a wooden fruit bowl. The scent of Bees Wax delighted my nostrils and my hands discovered a beautifully carved object. The bowl’s beauty lies in it’s imperfections. Rather than being a perfect circle it is indented throughout. To some these indentations would render the bowl ugly, however for me every knot and imperfections renders my bolw (for I purchased it) all the more desirable. Every blemish shows it to be a product of nature derived from a living tree rather than a mere lifeless utilitarian bowl fit only to display fruit.
In my living room stands a rain stick. It is composed of cactus branches and when turned or shaken produces a sound not unlike the falling of rain, the noise eminating from the cactus spikes inside. On running one’s hands over the stick you are struck by it’s likeness to a branch. The feel of the original plant makes my rain stick a thing of beauty to me at least.
The decorative and the practical meld together to produce objects which are both pleasing to the senses and useful. For example I hav a tall pine bookcase in my bedroom containing many of my favourite books. When taking down the Oxford Book of English Verse I often pause to run my hands over the bookcase and enjoy the feel of the lovely wood grain.
In a world of flux we all need (as I said above) things which impart a sense of permanence and stability. Of course on the spiritual level we require friendship, however once we have satisfied the need for companionship, food shelter etc we seek to beautify our homes, to make them more than a mere shelter from the elements. To be human is to create and desire that which is beautiful and this is, perhaps what sets us apart from other animals.
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