History: Capturing the Culture of the Times

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Doing a scan of images for woodworking in history, I came across this one posted on wiki (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_wood_carving)

… and I thought about how not only sculptures but furnishings and all things that we create paint a picture of our society, our culture, and, well, so much more.

… and then I wondered, if someone in the future, discovered something that I made, I wonder what they would think? How would they interpret the piece? What would they think that it said about our period in time, about woodworking, about our society?

What story does your work tell?
What does your work say about you, about the times in which we live, etc?

Toxins Out, Nature In - body/mind/spirit

I suppose the ancient Egyptians thought that their method of recording history was going to be good enough to tell future generations what they were up to but now we mostly guess at what they did. Those Stonehenge guys probably didn’t care what we, 6000 years on, thought about them.

The trouble with wood is it decays and quickly in the conditions found around my home. I doubt any of the stuff I make would last 6000 years but if any did I’m sure the finder would wonder why I bothered. I also wonder if they would be able to accurately tell the difference between say, my bathroom cabinet and something someone 200 years ago made, not because I’m just as good as that, but I do use a lot of the same techniques. Perhaps they’d categorise me as “Later 21st century power crafter” or some such.

Maybe I should write a little note on the bottom of my stuff: “I made this because I could and not because I had to. I made this because it gave me pleasure to carry on traditions that seem to be getting lost. I made this because it was fun.”

Or maybe not.

-- Alec (Friends call me Wolf, no idea why)

I love the note idea!
Imagine someone 100 years from now, finding something at an antique store and then discovering that little ditty!!

Toxins Out, Nature In - body/mind/spirit


I doubt that much of what I’ve made will have a long life either, but I nevertheless nearly always woodburn something on the bottom of it with my name and when and why it was crafted. I’ve even done that on the framework of furniture I have reupholstered. I always find it interesting to see previous upholsterers notes on the frames.


“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin

I often wonder anytime I wonder through an antique or second had store, where my creations will end up. Looking at the items in stores like that it’s interesting to try to guess what the creator’s story is and where the items travelled from. I have burned notes onto the bottom of some my creations if they were made for someone special – and hopefully those items will be passed on through the family!


I think some of it will be preserved in ways we did not think about.

I was reading yesterday that most of Venise is built on Oak post submerged under water. It has not rotten yet… Apparently the sea water “petrified” the oak and is harder than mortar.

Maybe some of our work will be submerged with volcanic ash, ice, etc.. Who knows, in a few thousand years, maybe…

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA