Not having many material distractions kept our work simple yet provided clear artistic learning adventures. In my scant possessions was Swiss Army type knife. This model had many blades and tools in one device. Mine included two knife blades, saw blade, awl, and corkscrew. These were enough to set me in the carving business. Coconuts provided material. My days usually began with gathering a coconut, using the awl to punch out the eyes and drain the milk. This I would share with anyone nearby. Next came out the saw blade and I neatly sawed the nut case into equal hemispheres. My curved knife blade was used to scoop out meat and dice it up. After serving it for breakfast, I had two nice bowl shapes to begin carving.
Working these bowls provided my first lesson in artistry. That was, while producing, it proved best to separate the work from thoughts of its outcome. By this I mean, focusing on the work at hand rather than what will become of it once it is finished. It was easy to distract myself with thoughts of who I would present my trinket to after it was finished. I quickly found that such distractions often interfered with getting artwork done. Also I found it a waste of mental energy since by the time I was finished the result was usually very different than I pondered. My task became a practice of returning drifting focus to the work at hand. This valuable lesson quickly became adaptable to most other tasks.
Though I had bowl shaped blanks, bowls were not the product. Instead I fashioned a way to use leather strips to hinge the two hemispheres back together. Then using a small hand made wooden bead and more leather strips I found a way to make a clasp. Then another piece of leather was used ot fashion a strap. What emerged was a small hard sided handbag. Its size was handy for folks who had not much to carry anyway. Several of these purses made their way into our community. Another product that sprung from local materials were walking sticks and canes. Mangrove roots provided strong straight wood for this project. The work consisted of scraping off the bark, rounding the hand hold end and adding carving. My first stick showed the words, “New Jerusalem.” Other sticks received different messages and symbols. Several of these items also made their way into the community.
Yesterday’s project ot editing my written work returned me to the lessons learned of maintaining focus on the task at hand, divorcing thought about where this task will end up. The difficulty being in this case, the editing I am working on is for the purpose of producing a clean written copy for presenting to Neal. My struggle is to divorce my thoughts of how I think how he will receive it and his reactions and instead stick with the task at hand.