Works of wood, courtesy of Dad

“I could paint it!”

That was my refrain the past 18 months as Tyler and I have remodeled the old Methodist church into our home. Trim? Paint it. Cupboards? Painted. Antique finds? Sand it, and cover it with paint. Raw wood, weathered wood, finished wood, painted wood—I always think I can paint it.

But Tyler is not as much a fan of painted wood as I am. Sometimes he likes the warmth of stained wood. My father, a talented woodworker, thinks similarly, and he came through with two beautiful items that show off the wood—no paint.

I’m sharing these two projects today in honor of Dad’s birthday tomorrow. In his retirement, he has created a vast array of beautiful wood pieces, including many pieces of furniture, uncounted tiny kitchen table sets for toddlers, cribbage boards, turning puzzle boards and other cool and unique items. He’s quite creative and rather humble. But I’m calling attention to him and his work because he deserves it, especially on his birthday. (Happy Birthday, Dad!)

end table from side
That a raw edge with some of the bark still attached.

The first piece was an end table Dad made for me for my birthday. You know how some people collect cool postage stamps or whale figurines? My dad appreciates wood. So when a tree fell down in his yard, he didn’t see garbage—he saw raw material.

trunk end table
Look at all those rings of growth! That was an old tree, just like the church.

The top of this end table is a slice of wood from that fallen tree, raw edges an all, and the stand was carefully created by Dad in his woodshop with various tools that make pieces of lumber into beautiful artifacts. The table now stands at attention between two loungers on my balcony, the perfect natural touch among my refined chairs.

dads bowl in full

Speaking of beautiful artifacts, Dad sent me this bowl he made “just because.” Well, it wasn’t only because he was thinking of me randomly. He made his first turned bowl for my mother and the second for my sister as a birthday gift so he didn’t want me to feel left out.

dads bowl

This bowl is made of 200 pieces of walnut and maple, carefully assembled, glued and planed (I think planed is the verb, maybe it’s turned) into this one-of-a-kind piece made just for me. (Thanks, Dad!)

I’ve now set this bowl in a place of honor in the new shelving at the back of our great room. That project is another story. I’ll share pictures of those shelves on another day.

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Drawing is not what one sees but what one can make others see

Our story so far: A far-flung friend I made back in my corporate days paid us a visit at the old Methodist church we turned into our home, and she likened the trip to a mecca.

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piece of belfry
This piece of wood almost certainly was installed with the bell, presumably some 126 year ago. It was removed by Reroofer last fall when he repaired the flat roof on the belfry.

This friend who came from far away once worked with me on creative projects that sometimes required sketches to get her point across. When she made her pilgrimage to the church, she agreed to attend a local lecture by an inspiring junking couple who shared ideas on how to turn topless teapots into planters and old yard implements into décor. I hauled an old piece of the belfry—a curved piece of wood that had been part of the wheel to ring it—to the talk to get their advice on how we might repurpose it. One of their suggestions was as a headboard. Privately, I rejected this idea as unnecessary, but my friend took this bit of advice to bed with her; while sleeping in the guest room—right next to the belfry—she apparently dreamed a vision. The next morning, she presented me with a drawing of how we could turn this leftover piece of wood into a showplace headboard for the upstairs guest room. She even had an idea for incorporating a little bell into the headboard in tribute to the big bell in our belfry.

sketch of headboard
Imagine the sweet dreams this headboard might inspire.

Inspired! The headboard we used up there was the one made for a king bed; it would need to be replaced. I filed her idea away for use later, when we had the time to work on such creative projects. It was not the first concept in the church that began as a sketch and flowered into something real and beautiful.

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Today’s headline is a quote from 19th century French artist Edgar Degas.

Tomorrow: Sister pays a visit as Chapter 44 opens. Read about it here.