In response to Fandango’s Flashback Friday, originally published May 28, 2020
My mentors were just that, mentors. Several couldn’t afford the expense that having an actual apprentice would cost; others were not interested. But then, by the 1960s, the old apprenticeship programs in crafts like carving were gone.
Then there was that little problem of my lack of maturity. When the opportunity to work with them presented itself, I was interested but not prepared. I think that was why several of them guided me in the direction of good authors and their books. Literacy and short-term courses at centers for specialized learning ( like WoodenBoat School) would replace the old system of craft shops and apprenticeships.
Even today, with the internet, there is no replacement for the book. I am working on a portrait of an early 20th-century Steam Yacht. The available information on the internet was helpful, but hardly all I needed to complete my research. Steam Yachts were a type of vessel that I had barely known existed. Using book dealers, I was able to find some titles that filled in the holes in my library. I am reasonably confident that this sort of need is true for boatbuilders, printmakers, musicians, and other professionals as well.
A funny thing happens as you develop a collection of books on your interests: your browsing habits change, and you begin looking to fill holes in your collection. Some of the side effects are less than pleasing. Bookshelves seem to appear randomly around the house; your selection must be housed. Friends with similar interests ask to borrow titles, and you clutch books to your chest, muttering about “…my precious…”
But the worst is the competition of your beloved spouse. My wife has a cookbook collection that seeks to rival my collection of maritime and woodworking titles. Sometimes she doesn’t see the natural superiority of the nautical. I stake out my claims very carefully. Eventually, someone will have to go.