Ever since I started to transition to a zero waste lifestyle, my relationship to (and appreciation for) the things that I own, has completely changed. Now that I actively choose what I allow into my life, I’ve noticed an especially important change in my mindset around cost, quantity, and quality. My focus use to be mainly on cost, especially on low costs, as well as on quantity (ie. How much can I get for the lowest price?). Today my focus has switched to be on quality, durability, multi-functionality, in as few objects as possible. Even if that means taking time to find the right item, making do without, or even sometimes paying a bit more money to get something that will be better in the long run. (ie. How can this object be used in more than one way? Do I already have something that could do the same thing? Is it going to last? Is the higher cost worth it?). This change in mentality has led to an even greater appreciation for anything made by hand.
I especially love to find things that are made by hand from natural resources especially when they also serve a functional purpose and are aesthetically pleasing. I treasure handmade pieces, in general, because I feel that there is a lot more love that goes into making them. Often times when you buy handmade things you can talk to the maker directly and learn about the processes that were used or where the materials were sourced from. I also tend to prefer them because they automatically feel like they are better quality items then something you would buy in a store. However, as much as I love handmade pieces, handmaking something yourself takes your appreciation for that object to a completely new level.
Recently my husband, my Dad, and I embarked on a project to produce one such handmade, functional item. My Dad has always had a love for wood working and when we stumbled upon a cherry burl that he had been storing for many years, he finally decided that it was time for it to be made into something. A burl is an abnormal growth on a tree where the grain has been deformed while the tree was growing, due to stress from things like an injury or fungus. They are typically shaped like a ball and are often highly prized due to how rare and beautiful they are. We decided to make the cherry burl into a bowl.
The grain in the wood from the burl is so pretty! I really treasure this piece now for a lot of reasons. First of all, it’s handmade (obviously). However, like I mentioned before, there is something intrinsically different about handmaking something for yourself. Also I really treasure the time and experience that I had during this project because of the special opportunity to work with and engage with some people who are very important to me, in an activity that was truly meaningful and added value to my life. We truly connected and bonded over this creative project and my Dad had the opportunity to pass on some of his knowledge and wisdom at the same time. Also I love this bowl because it looks like a functional piece of art. I know that it will be used for many years to come. If it ever gets scratched we can easily fix it with some sanding. The only waste that was produced during this project was from the sandpaper. This waste, however, could be eliminated completely by using a cabinet scraper which I didn’t know until we had already finished sanding everything. I’ll definitely be investing in some before our next wood working project. We already had everything else we needed for this project and all of us thoroughly enjoyed making something new together!