My grandfather died last week, and I traveled to his Iowa farm, where I got to know him and the family a little bit better.
Although I have been there many times and had my share of experiences as the grandchild-farmhand for the day, this trip had more gravity as I traced the family history and connected it to myself. This time as we revisited the buildings on the farm, my Dad told stories about the tools, machines, and the buildings that housed them, all designed and built by my Grandpa. One thing that my Dad emphasized was that he often didn't even draft a plan for the machines (many of them tractors that performed specific, unique functions for the farm) or tools, but had the entire plan in his head. That little piece about the way he worked really stood out to me, because I also work this way, so it seemed like a small part of him that I was lucky enough to inherit. Like him, I have a strong visual image of my designs that I keep in my mind, but (perhaps unlike him) my drawing skills are so poor that my sketches usually fail to capture the image I have in mind, so I often skip the drawing and go straight to drafting and draping the pattern. I sculpt the image that is in my mind, rather than drawing it first.
His workshop was especially attractive to me. Each tool in it's place, ready to be used. The time spent with tools, to me, is the best part of creating. This is the time for learning, inventing, perfecting, problem-solving, and finding the most elegant way of fitting pieces together. The product is nice too, but the process of creating is what's important to me.
I would be flattering myself to suggest that my skills live up to the skills of my Grandpa, but as I continue to develop as a designer and maker, the way I go about my work will remind me of my Grandpa and my connection to my family. One thing that I'm certain I inherited is the open-hearted love passed between family members, and for that I have so much gratitude.
Tools and workshop
And one more thing to admire---for work and for dress, he always had great personal style.