I have always adapted to wherever I was living at the moment. My art would be spread across the dining room table, on the side table next to the couch or shoved under the bed in a rolling bin. If I was working on a piece, I had to leave it out with the risk of spaghetti being splashed across it or coffee making a permanent stain. For all of you who have bought a piece from me, don’t worry! None of my fears have come true, as of yet. We have done tons of woodworking inside an apartment. Jordan and I have literally chopped, sanded and stained wood across our dainty glass patio set on the balcony. Our neighbors probably hated us when we pulled into our complex with lumber being hauled up the three flights of stairs and being stored in the “garage” which was a 4 ft by 3 ft closet off the balcony.
That was another thing. In order to be a woodworker of sorts and to do this woodburning business on the side, I had to use tools. These tools were drills, drill bit sets, chop saws, sanders, skill saws, and reciprocating saws. Jordan has been the mastermind behind showing me how to be safe with them and how/when to use them. I had numerous questions and had no idea what name went with what saw.
The sawdust was a bit of a monster. I made the mistake of sanding a board in the dining room of the apartment. I was thinking that it would be no big deal to sand for a few minutes and there wouldn’t be enough sawdust to count. The reality was, I probably ended up with sawdust in my pancakes long after the sanding was completed. I had a smooth board, but I had sawdust over everything. Picture this; an 800 sq. ft. apartment with the dining room right in the center of the kitchen, living room, foyer and laundry room. There was sawdust on the counters, sawdust on the shelves, sawdust on the carpet. Let’s just say, I learned my lesson.
Then, there were the larger pieces. I think the largest piece I did inside the apartment was a 4 ft x 3 ft board for race medals. We chopped, sanded and glued the boards on our tiny balcony and then laid it across our dining room table. This beautiful dining room table became my workshop. I burned probably close to 300 letters on that piece. Little did I realize that I was burning on pine, which has sap and can’t be burned on safely. I was wondering why Jordan and I were getting light headed. Ha! Again, a learned lesson about the need for ventilation while woodburning in a small space.
Any photographer that I have spoken to about my art has said, “You really need to retake the pictures of your pieces.” Really? That is basically a task that cannot be done when you are shipping custom pieces out and never going to see them in person again. If you look carefully, you’ll see most of pieces were pictured with the lovely background of a balcony rail or the weeds that grew down the street from the apartment. Oh, maybe I could’ve been creative and taken one by the trash compactor. Our photographer society calls for this sometimes unrealistic expectation of beautiful photos with white backgrounds when in reality you live in an apartment. All I can say is that it is easier to take pretty pictures in a home.
Apartment life was the most humbling and amazing experience as a wood burner and beginning woodworker. I seriously have to brag on Jordan. He made woodworking on the balcony an adventure. He would chop whatever I needed and show how to have fun in the circumstances. It might have been a tiny balcony, but I can say we loved watching the snow fall while we sat on it. It may have been a little embarrassing inviting people over to pass the trash compactor, but at least we didn’t have to walk a mile to get to it. It may have been a little inconvenient to walk Bandit down, but it got us out on walks. Finally, the kitchen may have been small, but at least it was large enough to dance to Elvis while we did the dishes.
That was our time of living in a small space. Apartments are good for transitioning and laying your head down at night. It definitely wasn’t a place of luxury, but it was our home. We made so many memories inside it. We found out about our baby in that apartment. Jordan has taught me many things, but one thing he has always said is that “imperfect things make the best stories.” When you have the perfect house, the perfect car, and the perfect family, you don’t always have the best stories. Today I am thankful for our home, but I won’t attempt to have the perfect life (but maybe I could do without sawdust in my pancakes).