Today I launch this site, the road to which is littered with swear words, bandages, fruitless Google rabbit holes, and lots of sawdust. After years of working alongside artists and artisans of all varieties and mediums, I'm anxious and excited about starting this journey for myself.
But the story of Balwen Woodworks isn't really a story about me. Not the main story, anyway. The best stories of Balwen will be the tales the materials themselves have to tell.
You can make chunks of wood into a bowl, or a piece of furniture, or a baseball bat, or the frame of a house, but any woodworker with a little experience knows that you can't make wood into something it doesn't want to be. It's a living material, even long after its tree of origin is gone. Wood moves, it breathes, and if you work against it rather than with it, wood will beat you almost every time. It's what draws me to woodworking over and over again: the feeling that even though you may be working alone, you don't get to make all the decisions. Every piece of wood is a puzzle that has a range, but not an infinite number, of solutions.
I find materials in all sorts of places: estate sales, other woodworkers, the alley behind my house, a walk in the forest. For the most part, the woods I choose have already had at least one life. I make buttons from the handle of a hammer with the head rusted through. I take the legs from broken chairs and make tiny bowls from the thick parts. I fill the back of my car when my dad trims dead branches from the white birch tree in his yard that's nearly as old as I am.
Whatever the source, these woods are done being what they were, but they still have life in them. And rather than toss them into a landfill or burn them for firewood, I turn them into something new, perhaps something completely different from their last form. Whenever I can, I'll share their stories with you, so that you can see in your new purchase the same character I did when I found them.
Thank you for looking. Time to go make stuff!