August 7, 2006
The following story was written by Michael Shaughnessy, from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Michael is running for the OLC Board this year. In 1989, he enrolled in the Program Read literacy program in Sault Ste. Marie. At that point, he was unable to read a single word. Michael had a lot of bumps along the way, but now, he can basically read anything that is given to him. His self-confidence has increased tenfold. In terms of his interest, he would like to see the day when we read about literacy problems only in history books.
Have you ever been in love? I mean really in love? The first time I went past that door, I could smell something so nice and pleasurable. It reminded me of French perfume. I turned my head around to see where the smell was coming from. Then my eye saw it. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen getting dressed so slowly; I could see the smooth, beautiful, shapely curved line. I could barely keep from getting excited when watching what was happening in front of me. My eye began to shine like a diamond. My heart began to beat faster and faster. My blood began to boil and race more quickly though my veins. As the wood came slowly though the planer, I knew I had found my passion in life. She was a beautiful cedar leg for a loveseat.
Now I make garden furniture. To create something from nothing is the most powerful experience of oneself. I love to take lumber and dress it, creating something nice like a love seat. I have to be so precise at cutting--like an airspace worker, or it would not go to together very well. I enjoy sanding the piece so smooth that I can see the beautiful curved grain, almost seeing the reflection of myself in the wood. When I am working with cedar and smell the saw dust, the smell of the wood is more intoxicating than words can describe.
I make up to four or five furniture items to sell. This way I perfect my work, but I will never sacrifice the quality for speed. I make benches, planter benches, arbors with a bench in between, and Adirondack love seats. All my pieces have amazing style and shape. I have to like the design before I decide to make it.
The Adirondack love seat is an amazing piece of long furniture. It seems
to flow from one point to another down to its graceful legs. The back leans
just far enough to be relaxing and my feet just touch the ground. I could
fall asleep in a minute. The arm style is wide enough that a person could
sip a glass of iced tea and rest it on the arm. In the middle, there is
a cut out design-usually a heart; however, when I was making the design
for a customer, he said,
"I have been married for a long time, so I
don't think something like a heart would work for me." So I did some
soul searching and came up with a Canadian maple leaf. I liked it so much
that it became my trademark. I use a router to round the edges of the work
to give it a final touch. The Adirondack love seat accents a backyard so
much. Even now, when I have done a job, it still sends a shiver down my
spine. I'm proud that I can accomplish work like this.
Working with wood is such a gratifying feeling that a person can't experience what it feels like without going through it himself. Whenever I make a new project to sell, there is a piece of me that goes with it. Because I take so much pride in my work, I make every project as if it was for my self. I use the money to purchase more wood working machines, wood and some material for my house.
I heard, second hand, from my former math teacher about the good work I did at making the love seat for my former English teacher; he was so impressed with my work. This means more to me than hearing it first hand because people might say they like my work even if they don't just to be nice. When I hear comments second hand like this, it brings a smile to my face because it means I have brought my work up to the next level.