growth rings

It wasn’t so much an escape from news of the latest tragedy…


But there was an insistent pulling from a quieter place-


So we went into the woods for a few days


And put our minds to wood grain and the angle of cutting green wood with our edge tools-

To create forms from nature in a world seemingly bent on destruction.

To think about what counts now, in our present.


To look again at the grain of a birch, listening to what it tells us, as Jögge would say.

No cellphones and no chargers,

But steel and iron-


And we used them to pare away supple shavings of cherry, oak, ash and birch-


making both new and traditional forms-


Expert hands (and feet) inspired us-


Plans were laid out on long grain-


and with rolled up sleeves-


we went to work.


Effort and practice


and patient guidance


kept us on the path.

The trees did indeed talk to us.


They gave us gifts


and watched us as we made friends


old and new-


All pushed themselves to discover what they could be-


-maybe to search for what they were meant to be.


And the stories–so many stories-

Of place-


Of materials-


Of the past informing our present-

These stories were told with a generosity of spirit and a true love of craft.


They moved us in ways we did not wholly expect.

It was a purposeful revolution in the green wood-


-the rhythm of hatchets and adzes working away toward the heart.

Some of the tales poked us-


lest we take ourselves


too seriously-


One of us carried into the woods a beautiful idea in lieu of a Sloyd knife-


Her vision, coupled with the work of tireless and dedicated organizers, built a framework for us-

That we may gather to unplug and reconnect in the summer wood among friends from all over the world.

Not an escape.

But an insistent pull-


(or push, depending on grain direction)

To pare away the green wood

until that which matters remains.




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28 thoughts on “growth rings

  1. francedozois says:

    nice job Rick–you have a gift–it was a great time–

  2. graemeu says:

    As usual – a great little story

  3. kneetoknee says:

    Lovely piece, great to meet you at GF

    • Rick says:

      Thank you for saying KtoK, and likewise. I confess though, I’m not sure who you are from only the “kneetoknee” handle. I hope I didn’t make you hew…

  4. hiscarpentry says:

    You’re so poetic. I love it man.

    Thanks for the slideshow.

    Oh, did you ever find a pick for your froe?

    • Rick says:

      Real men pick their froes with trenails-
      (I have no idea what that means…)
      You rock, man. Thank you SO MUCH for all your help.

  5. Paul Lefebvre says:

    as ever, beautiful words and excellent photos! It was great to finally meet you at GF.

    • Rick says:

      Thank you so much, Paul. It was such a special event…I had to put the wisecracks aside for a few moments. Thank YOU for being there!

  6. Hay Rick!

    Sounds to have been a good event.

    I’m curious though, who was using the stock knife? And more importantly, was the handle bent or straight?

    Best regards,


    • Hah! I see from Peter’s post it was JoJo Wood. I am concerned about the health of people’s backs who use the bendy handled stock knife. Mine is a French one with a straight handle, while I guess it would be tricky to cut the highest points on clog soles with it (the handleend comes up to one’s chin) I prefer to work with a straight back as much as poss.

      • Rick says:

        Well now you’ve done it Richard…I mentioned your comment to JoJo and she had a spirited reply…

      • JoJo says:

        Rick says I gotta come reply to this myself so helloooooo yes that is an English stock knife with the bent handle, you can see it in use here

        As you’ve already sussed, the bent handle and low-ish bench are to enable me to cut the full length of large clogs, while still using body weight rather than muscle strength to work.

        On the subject of posture, it is one of the most common comments when people see me work…. but personally I don’t find a problem with it. While carving I’m constantly mobile. Most of the time when people struggle with back pain from bending over, it’s stationary positions – stood over a low chopping block or hunched over a table. I’d rather carve all week than sit for half a day at a desk!

      • Rick says:

        Thanks for weighing, JoJo. Good stuff.
        Does FitBit recognize stock knife use as a separate category?

  7. Dave Fisher says:

    That was beautiful Rick! Great to meet you.

  8. Dana Carini says:

    sorry i missed the fest. i took your first class in green wood and loved it. still chipping away on a mash up of wood stools in my neck of the woods.!!!!

  9. A nice posting-up, still a bit harried by my reading in its own way. Keep up the good woodworking too.

  10. Derek says:

    Hey RIck,

    Really nice post, both words and pics. Such a good time at GF. Thanks for being part of it..I was happy to meet you and watch you and Pret in action!


    • Rick says:

      Much appreciated, Derek. Great to hear from you. I think we are all of us feeling the same way. Did that really happen? Back to the grind…

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