On the week of 27 March - 3 April, I was in Welling, Kent, England. No, not on a lark. I was at the house of one Owen Bush, a fantastically talented bladesmith, creative archaeologist, pattern-welder, metallurgist, artist blacksmith, source of knowledge on bladed weapons, gifted teacher, and a wonderful guy with a big beard.
But I was not just staying with Owen, though by the end of the course we'd developed a real friendship. I was there for a 'Celtic and Norse Woodcarving' class taught by Jake Powning, a master bladesmith from New Brunswick with a peerless eye for the aesthetic of Celtic and Norse ornamentation, produced by years of study and recreation. He was another all-around awesome dude.
The page for the class I took:
My reasons for taking this course were many, chief among them to gain the specific skill of woodcarving, and to develop my already strong love for Celtic and Norse artwork and further my appreciation and eye for it, as well as to integrate myself into a community of talented artisans whose work a totally admire, regardless of the little I've done so far.
It was so, so much more than that. I'll be more specific later, but in summary, I spent hours upon hours every day with my work on my lap, learning, talking, laughing, and experimenting with nine other people who were doing the same, with our creativity flowing uncontrollably and our passion running high. What with our work, the informal and intimate instruction, and the combined power of our parallel interests and loves, I learned more in that one week than I think I ever have. I gained the specific skills I hoped to gain, but most importantly I gained insight on the true spirit of craftsmanship and experienced the channeling of passion into work.