10-month-old Chip playing on a walk in the woods recently.

When I was a kid, the day after Christmas would find me on the floor before a pile of Legos, a Lite Brite, or maybe a brand new box of crayons. Not a care in the world, playing. Trying out new ideas, stretching my mind, learning. Of course, I had no such goals — I was simply at play, delighting in possibilities.

Now I’m not a kid, and the cares of the world swarm around me. Yet greenwood carving provides me with all sorts of opportunities to play, and I find myself refreshed with a childlike exuberance that quiets the buzzing.

Fitting play into our lives is important for many reasons and there is all sorts of research on the idea. If you approach at least some of your time in the workshop with a sense of play, you’ll reap benefits in terms of what you produce and in terms of satisfaction. You don’t really even have to try. It comes naturally as it does for a child.

For me, the fun and exploration begins with finding material. Walking through little pockets of woodlands with the excuse of looking for fallen trees and branches is an adventure. Finding something is a bonus. If you have a fun-loving dog or child to take along, you’ll find even more inspiration.

Play in a sketchbook. Let your mind go free with (sometimes) absurd ideas that may lead to something wonderful, or may not. The paper and pencil act like an extension of your brain, leading to all sorts of fun connections. It’s about drawing, not the drawing.

Try some of these ideas in the workshop. Explore them with a sense of excitement, fully aware that they may not work out as expected. Some of the possibilities might be whimsical. I wrote a post a few years ago with some toy ideas.

And, of course, playmates are nice. Friends, axes, knives, wood chips. Wishing you all a happy 2021 with more playdate opportunities!

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14 Responses to Play

  1. francedozois says:

    very sweet hope you and yours had a merry day–

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave Fisher says:

      Thanks, Marie. Different, but still merry, and white. several inches of snow yesterday, making everything nice — along with temperatures to immobilize the ticks for a few days at least!


  2. Kalia Kliban says:

    It’s so freeing to go into the shop without thinking in terms of “what will sell” or “what the client wants,” but instead, “what calls out to me right now?” This year has been horrible in many ways but I’ve cherished having time for explorations in the shop.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fred says:

    I got a small bowl adze from Jason Lonon for Christmas– caught him with some – all gone now.
    Another way to have fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. maydanlex says:

    In the middle of a Bathroom renovation, with Christmas time joy providing a break. While I don’t really need a break from the work (I’m retired after all) I do love to see what Mr. Fisher’s been up to. Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave Fisher says:

      Merry Christmas! Mr. Fisher’s been mainly up to his eyeballs with school, but now a break for several days. Days that, coincidentally, will involve helping with a bathroom renovation — but at least not my own.


  5. Drew Knowland says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Dave! Your notes always bring joy to me and a lot of inspiration as well! Thank you for sharing with all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful post about play in the workshop. Thank you it’s so good to be reminded of this. I’m definitely guilty of being to serious in my work. You have inspired me.
    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  7. onerubbersoul says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. Dave, your posts are always an inspiration and a simple pleasure I look forward to reading. Time to get my sketch pad out.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. pavlush says:

    Thanks for sharing all of your skills and thoughts on carving/woodworking. You inspire me. Best to you and your family in the coming New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Barry Gordon says:

    Another thoughtful and excellent post Dave. I second all that you suggest. There are a number of people who claim that my ENTIRE CAREER has been one of playing! That this can be said, even in jest, reminds me of my debt to Barbara. But, at low times, it also makes me think of how I’ve “wasted” such a glorious opportunity. I observe you, Dave, and know that, even though you heartily endorse play and practice it, you are wasting nothing. I am, as usual, much impressed. Keep up the fine example for the rest of us!


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