When I think of my creativity, I think of my roots.
When I think of my roots, I think of my hands.
When I think of my hands, I think of my family – specifically my dad.
Introducing my dad, Michael, of Country Cabinets & Millworks, Inc.
My dad has always worked with his hands and it shows. They are strong and weathered hands, yet gentle. In his first year of cabinetmaking, my dad cut off half of his thumb on a table saw and the doctors weren’t able to reattach it. You can see his rounded and shorter thumb on his left hand in the photo above. Obviously that did not make him stop woodworking, and it’s now almost 40 years later and his love for the craft is apparent if you are ever lucky enough to walk into his shop and see his projects.
In some ways, I have spent years feeling at odds with my dad. He was reserved, strict and the strong silent type – wouldn’t say much when he did say something and sometimes it was to place a rule on me, his only child. But now I realize how much I am just like him – not just comparing myself to his demeanor, but how he’s taken a craft and made it his job. He’s an entrepreneur and an artist – something I hope to be (and am working on).
My dad has made many things for me throughout my life. Our living room recliner chairs, kitchen cabinets, my childhood bunk bed, my current bed (which he made as a wedding gift), a gymnastics balance beam, barbie doll house and furniture, trunks, mirrors, frames, boxes, knick knacks – he did it ALL. So many of our family friends had custom kitchen cabinets made by my dad. He did it without a college degree, more purely based on a skill passed down and inspired by his own grandfather. If there was something he couldn’t figure out, he would test variations of the process and find what worked for him. This is exactly how I’ve learned photography – all by eye, no formal education or training.
I have such a respect for the woodworking skill and grew up with a love for the smell of sawdust and fresh cut wood. I could always tell the difference between a solid piece of wood and some laminate or plastic recreation. I have fond memories of venturing into my dad’s shop as a kid, in awe of the big metal monsters and shape-shifting carpet of sawdust at my feet. My dad was stocky, and I followed suit with stocky hands and strong calves. Many of my childhood crushes would shy away from a handshake with my dad for fear he would bring them to their knees (and he often did to those that felt brave enough). My dad was as hard as the wood he worked on, and “went into business full time in an area full of people who shared as much love for the natural resources of the area [as he did].” As a Virgo, he is truly an Earth sign and it shows in his appreciation for wood and where it comes from.
By the way – he’s growing a Christmas tree farm in his 14 acre back yard. (!)
He’s always coming up with new little things to make me that he can ship from Washington to California. Some of them have my named carved into them, which I always love.
What inspired this post was a beautiful handheld mirror my dad made for me:
To see more of my dad’s custom cabinetry or if you’re interested in his services, you can find my dad in the Pacific Northwest here.