Maybe art is not a quest to conquer the secrets of perfection, but rather it is the revelation of that which is personal and unique, and which defies the very concept of perfection. This old tree has its own story to tell — of it’s singular and incomparable life on the hillside above my house. So I am listening for a voice that will sing of this here and now, of my own life and of this land and forest that I have come to know so well.Otis Tomas, The Fiddletree
When I wrote about a carved spoon a couple weeks ago, my friend Scott reminded me of Otis Tomas‘ book The Fiddletree. In it, Tomas tells of his harvesting of a venerable old sugar maple near his home on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and recounts, in thoughtful detail, the making of a violin from its wood.
The description of the process is full of practical woodworking advice, along with Tomas’ insights and experienced reflections. It’s a combination of woodworking, design, music theory, history, and philosophy — beautifully written.
Then it gets even more special. The second part of the book features a collection of tunes composed by Tomas, wonderfully annotated. I can’t make much of the musical notation, but many people will.
Then the icing on the cake: Tomas includes a CD, in a neat envelope inside the back cover, recordings of an ensemble of Tomas and his friends playing the songs. There are some samples here. And their instruments — violins, viola, cello, mandolin, guitar, and a harp — were all made by Tomas from the Fiddletree.
I’ll end this one with a quote from Tomas that accompanies his song Handle with Care:
What more advice need be given? In this rough and tumble world, care and compassion in all things. It’s that simple.Otis Tomas