Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jack of All Trades

Dad working on the door he made to fit an odd-shaped opening upstairs.

He's finished the window trim in the main studio!

The gorgeous birch and maple yarn cabinet that dad made me for Christmas a few years ago.

He used birch and walnut (from a tree at my childhood home) for this bookcase which now houses my favorite art books.

Dad made Shaker-style clocks one year as Christmas gifts for me, Mom, Kristin, Jayson, Nana, and Aunt June.

Another door, made to fit a crawl-space cubby in the eaves of the house.


Some people are just gifted that way. They seem to have an aptitude for almost anything they try. My dad is one of those people. He is a carpenter, plumber, electrician, businessman, boatsman, mathematician, and builder.

I am, in a sense, one of those Jacks-of-all-trades, but in a different way than my father. I can organize, write, sculpt, teach, cook, and weave. But don't ask me to figure out how to cut the proper angles on a closet door so that it will fit perfectly. Don't trust me to connect wires into their appropriate spots on a ceiling light. And that leaky running-water sound on the toilet....well, it will remain that way until we hire-in someone who knows what to do with it. My brain, (and my poet-philosopher husband's brain) just doesn't work that way.

But dad, he just seems to know, intuitively, how to do all those things, and more. He says that he had to learn to do it, and did so by trial and error. He did have an electrical background due to training, he says, in the military and at Bath Iron Works. (We're talking back in the 60's and 70's!). Those experiences led him to Xerox, where he was a machine technician. From there, he became his own boss and has successfully run a business for over twenty-five years.

I must admit, it has been a luxury for us to have such a talented craftsman and tradesman in the family. Living in a 160+ year-old house, there is plenty that goes awry. And with the new studio space, he does amazing work to trim it out and install doors.

He is gifted with woodworking skills. If you praise him, he'll list a dozen things he thinks he could have done better. But in reality, this just isn't so. The furniture that he made for me over the years is some of my most prized possessions. I remember squealing with delight when I saw the gorgeous yarn cabinet he made made a few Christmases back. The Shaker-style clock is a centerpiece in our living room, and the bookcase, made in part with wood from the walnut tree I played under as child, houses my favorite books. All these beautiful, lovingly-made pieces of furniture grace our home in the most distinguished of spots.

In my parents' home, his mark is everywhere. He installed every bit of trim work and doors, made much of the furniture and the post and beam barn. It wasn't until recently that I found out that he actually built the house where my grandfather lived; the one I spent much of my childhood in and still to this day dream about often. (It is no longer in the family, but my sister and I hope that someday it will be again.)

As I write this blog entry, I am listening to the hammer do its work upstairs. Dad is trimming out the door that he made for us this past Christmas. It is more beautiful than I ever anticipated, to fit an odd shaped/sized opening into a small closet space upstairs.

We are so fortunate for him to offer his skills to help us finish off our dream project. He has driven over 400 miles round trip several times since last fall to trim the space and install doors. We are so blessed, and incredibly grateful.

Thanks, Dad!




5 comments:

Fearless Nester said...

They just don't make 'em like that too much anymore...I'm talking about your father, as much as his beautiful handiwork. What a treasure! ~Lili

Tina Marie said...

YEAH Uncle David! As another daughter of a wood-talented father I understand the joy (and relief) of having someone who can help with these types of projects. :)

SHANNA WHEELOCK said...

Yes, Lili and Tina - I agree!

Frank Chin, k-12 art coordinator, RSU/MSAD 54 said...

Sounds like you have a wonderful and creative family. Thank you for appreciating your dad so much!
Frank Chin, k-12 art coordinator, RSU/MSAD54, Skowhegan, ME

SHANNA WHEELOCK said...

Hi Frank - it's great to see a fellow art teacher stopping by!

Though this is primarily a personal art blog, I occasionally post about school art happenings (i.e. January 16 post). Soon - my high school students will be creating their own sites with their artwork.

Peace-
Shanna