On Being Creative

When I meet people or catch up with old friends most people immediately say something about how great it is to be able to do what you love. It is, but when you turn what you love into a business the reality is often you don’t get to do much of that part, you do a lot of business. 
I spend most of my day talking with people about insurance, accounting, employees, broken equipment, customer issues, those sorts of things. If I used the sawmill as much as I use my cell phone, my world would look a whole lot different.
Thats why the moments when I do get to be creative are so precious. The last few weeks we have been working on transforming some very beautiful but not very functional pieces of wood into art. In our industry it is estimated that 35-43% of log mass is completely wasted in the milling and grading process. In the tree service world I would imagine that number is higher. For us, we are a zero waste facility, meaning that every bit of very tree is used. That is a challenge.
Often times the most beautiful pieces are also the least useful. Knots, rot, bug holes, difficult grain, checking, all these result in pieces that are pretty but not function. The challenge is what to do with them.
Lately we have been transforming these pieces into pure art. It’s ok that they are just beautiful. That is enough and it is our job to bring out that beauty. The other day we were prototyping a wall mounted wood art piece and I have the idea that behind the art piece you could make it a small concealed storage area. The idea was contagious and we were all very excited about it. It is not often that you get to come up with an idea that solves several problems in unique ways. 
The prototyping is fun and frustrating. Two steps forward one step back. Justin had a great idea with magnets, Johny made a concealed hold for a gun. The collaborative work is very fulfilling. Each contributes and we all work together. This is the rare but deeply satisfying work of getting to be creative. 
Now off to talk on my cell phone!

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