I looked at the panel in front of me and lusted quietly after the skill that had created it. Have you ever wanted something so badly that it becomes a physical phenomenon? There had been an opportunity years ago to stay with my mentor and become an apprentice. Warburton had offered, I had declined. I wanted to go back on the road and bum my way to the west coast.
I might even be able to duplicate the panel now- given five years to do it in. My work turned in other directions, and the classical, neoclassical, and renaissance tropes I found engaging, but not enough to dedicate myself to learn.
When I did the Maine Boatbuilders show every spring, an older retiree would show up like clockwork at my booth. He had trained in a trade carver’s shop in France before World War II. Sometimes he’d take the opportunity to take over my bench. Once, he took a length of scrap, and using a small assortment of the tools I had there showed me how fast he could turn out two feet of fancy carved molding. Minutes. ” Once you learn, you’ll never really forget.” He smiled and left me hoping that he’d return the next day. Part of the difference between being self-taught and having worked in a craft/trade environment are all the methods you learn that make basic tasks easier, and basic tasks are the building blocks to the Secrets of the Masters.
It’s like going from the darkness of the North Atlantic into the light.