Works and Days

Hail Gary, Free of Briefcase: Northwest Woodworking Studio, Emily Zetkulic, Winter Shadow 2016

On the first day, he had us build a door. I had no idea what I was doing.

I don't mean that I was unsure of how to build a door; I unquestionably did not possess that knowledge. I mean I really didn't know what I was doing—that I was building a door, that this door would be the entrance to Gary's office indefinitely, that I would not sever a fingertip in the process. (Don't worry, Gary Rogowski '72 had us sign waivers.) But at the end of the day, after several hours of foggy instruction following, Jacob and I did have a door in front of us (and lo, one that barely creaked, certainly opened, and practically closed), and twenty fingers between us.

Over the next few days Jacob and I would build more wooden things, culminating in the execution of a real live chair prototype. We designed and chiseled and sawed and swept. We went out to lunch with the Master Woodworking students at a Cuban restaurant in Northeast. We were privy to the same assignments the Master students received, if not the same skill set.

It was a refreshing learning environment. Kind of like Reed in that you're tossed into the deep end, but a more hands-on and less heady deep end. And virtually no crying. In four days, I learned basics of chair design and such techniques as bent lamination, steam bending, heavy lifting and power tools. I could even build you a door if you vaguely asked for one.

Through the whole process, Gary spoke freely about his life and work experiences (which for him, are one in the same). Our cups runneth over with wisdom about woodworking, making a living out of a creative pursuit, the superiority of the trickle-down theory of economics, and how to recover from graduating Reed College (est. 1911).

In short, my winter shadow was an invaluable experience, and I highly recommend it to the right people.

Tags: winter shadow, winter externship, woodworking, craft, hands on, art, building, construction