The Boat Desk
Now as I think about it, this is where it all started for me. This is where I started paying attention to my creative nature. This single event turned me sharply on a journey of self-discovery which I’m still on today.
This is where my interest in design and woodworking began to develop and grow. This is where changes in me were about to happen.
My kids were young (4 and a half and six years old) and were just starting kindergarten and elementary school.
They needed a desk but I didn’t want to just buy them a desk. I decided I’d try to build a desk for them where they could do their homework. But I didn’t want to build them just any desk.
I had never thought about woodworking before and I don’t know what made me think I could do it but I started to doodle. As I doodled, I watched my two boys play together. They were always close. Always had fun together. They did things together and shared everything.
So I decided to build a desk they could share but still had their own space for their books, paper, pens, etc..
I was intrigued by the idea and challenge of designing a desk just for them that they would always remember. Never mind the fact that I’d never done that before. I was fearless. (The phrase, “Ignorance is Bliss” comes to mind.)
I knew very little about design and woodworking then but it didn’t matter. It didn’t stop the fun. I was building memories and creating a fun environment to encourage their love of learning.
I spent more than a few hours trying to come up with the “perfect” design for the desk.Then the nautical theme somehow washed up on the shores of my scanner brain.
I’ve always associated the nautical theme with fun and adventure so I began to think about boats and how the desk might be built to resemble a boat, where they could both sit at the desk but have their own space too.
I thought to myself, “The sails could be the shelves where they each could organize their own books back to back and reach them from their end of the desk. And in the hold of the boat there would be plenty of space for various supplies they might need.
And..Voila!……….It thuddenly “themed right” to me.
So I put my pencil down and I went to find someone who could help me make it real for the kids. At that time, I had no experience, no shop, no tools, no knowledge, and I was in the Air Force, not the Navy!………(the Navy has boats, you know?)
I was living and working in South Korea. I was in the Air Force and lived on base housing where there also was an Arts and Crafts Hobby Shop. The shop keeper, Mr. Lee, was amused at my idea for a desk but was eager to show me the steps I needed to take to cut, build, and finish it.
That was my first lesson in working with wood, tools and paint. That was also my first time to put my thoughts on paper. I found that I liked that process. I liked thinking with a pencil and paper in my hand.
After the desk was finished and dried, I moved it to the house and the kids and their friends liked it. My boys started putting there school supplies in the desk, getting ready for the first day of school.
I stood back and watched and was glad they liked it. For a moment I reflected on the whole design and build process I had been through that week. I enjoyed every minute of it. Seeing the need, finding a design solution, building the piece and finishing it. I thought to myself that this is something I could do. It was an eye-opening event for me.
It made me want to learn more. And so began my affair with woodworking and design. I had discovered an appreciation for my creative spirit, the difficulty and the challenges in designing well, the skills required in woodworking, and the joy of the overall process.
At a minimum, I was living out the human urge to invent and build something. In the process I got a renewed sense of who I am and what I’m capable of doing. I discovered yet another sliver of meaning relevant to my life.
It had been right there all along ……….in my finger!……….a sliver! (a splinter!)…….(of wood!)
That made me want to start on a new project. Maybe that’s why, now, I am always thinking of projects to do.
P.S. It was Jesse’s idea, to put the boat desk in water. I thought he meant that literally, but what I finally understood him to be saying was to paint the wave on the boat. That was the finishing touch and the boat was launched.