Friday, 7 September 2012

Of old saws & axes and such...

These days, for some reason, I'm very drawn to old hand tools. My heartbeat steps up pace when I spot old woodworking planes, old saws and pretty much everything with a wooden grip, handle or element.I have been thinking about where this seemingly sudden fascination comes from - I figured it must have started when I got interested in cutting woodblocks. Researching techniques and types of wood let me into the world of tools that coax timber into new shapes and functions.

When I really think about it, it must have started much earlier. I detect a nostalgic, sentimental, emotional quality to my interest. As I dig deeper into the vault of my reminiscing mind, I find a big stash of childhood memories connected to woodworking tools.

I see the warm woodgrain handle of different rasps that I was put in charge of handing to my grandad when he was shaping a new door handle on his wine cellar door.

I see the big weathered bow saw with its blonde wooden frame and braid of twine hanging on the wall of my horsey grandpa's stable.

The chipped red paint on the flat carpenter's pencil that I was given when it became just a little stump, too small for my dad's fingers to hold but perfect for the little pocket on my pinafore dress.
And I see the handle of the small axe worn all smooth and shiny that us children used - with much confidence! - to help chop kindling for the winter.

I come across old axes, saws and other woodworking tools often, in pretty much every flea-market and second-hand store I visit these days.

I'd love to adopt them all - the well-handled grips, the shine in the wood, the matted blades all point to silent histories and previous owners who held them in their hand and used them with skill in their profession or in everyday life.

I find them beautiful as objects. If I bought them I would display them like art on the wall. 

I've come across an artist who uses old axes in his sculpture art - I really really like his creations. This post is a bit like a lead-up to an introduction of him, but now that I have digressed into much elaboration of childhood memories and my affinity for orphaned hand tools I really ought to dedicate a separate post to his sculptures. 

Promise, I'll write about solely his art in my next post!

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