You know Swing, that was a pretty good video. I was surprised to see
how accessible and easy going Marks was.
He came to our sunny town about three years ago shilling something for
Woodcraft. Here for the day only, it was treated as the second
coming. The boys of the woodworking club and the staff at WC were
positively giddy with excitement.
He got here, and by all accounts, he was abrupt and hurried. It was
obvious that it was an obligation. He did not want to share
woodworking stories with any of them, and made that clear. But he
really rubbed the woodworking club members the wrong way at his
reaction to a piece they brought forward for his blessing.
One of the guys had made one of Marks' tables, and had gotten so many
compliments on it that he decided to teach others how to make it.
(That meant he was now a woodworking instructor, right?) This guy had
made several of these tables along with his classes, and was feeling
pretty good about his work.
Without knowing who the instructor or artisan actually was, he looked
over the table and rendered a pretty seething commentary on how it was
made, how the joints were assembled, how the veneer trims were
installed and really hammered the finish.
Marks did not know that they "instructor" was standing right there
with him, and his words cut really deep. As for me, I saw the table
and I must say I have seen better and I have seen worse. (Although, I
must say in Marks' defense that the finish looked like it was put on
with a flooring trowel.)
Maybe he was rushed, maybe he didn't want to be there, maybe there was
trouble at home, who knows. But he cut so deeply that the guy quit
his instruction and won't teach anyone anything anymore.
In my opinion, Marks was wrong. There were all these older retirees,
younger hobby guys, garage woodworkers, etc., that were just looking
for a pat on the back. I know there are many that feel like the cold
light of truth is always the best way to view things, but I am not one
of them. Those guys knew there work wasn't perfect, they just wanted
a nod and a "man, that looks nice". They would have have been "proud
to bust" and had bragging rights for 10 years over a compliment.
And it isn't like these guys were even trying to make it as cabinet or
furniture makers. I get a charge out of some of them as they told me
that it takes so damn long for them to do anything that they would
starve to death unless they charged by the hour. But, the allow that
if they charged by the hour they would be rich!
Since I do this for a living like you do, I run into two different
kinds of folks that do woodworking. There are those that don't want
me to see their work. I always find ways to compliment them.
Always. They turn beet red when their SO says from the kitchen
"honey, did you show Robert the XXX you made?". I always finds
something positive to say. On the other hand, from time to time I am
surprised and run into a fellow that is as good as any professional,
so it is easy to be complimentary. I find that most non-professional
woodworkers have a good sense of humility, and are in the crafts to
enjoy them more than anything else.
The other kind is the one that cannot wait for me to see what he has
done. These were the guys that were at the Marks show at WC. And
yes, these guys get compliments, too. Why not? They aren't pros, and
don't pretend to be. Sometimes they ask for tips, sometimes I offer
one or two. It is always a positive experience. And if they turn out
to be clients, more than once I have had wives come to me and tell me
how much they appreciated me taking the time to examine a project and
pass on some compliments.
I think the art of a carefully crafted compliment is a good habit to
have, and one that is also lost these days. It costs nothing, and
given the right way you aren't pandering or insincere. But you can
sure do a lot of good with it.
I think it is interesting that Marks speaks highly of others and his
students and assistants, and he seemed sincere in the video since he
obviously didn't have to bring it up at all. And he was really nice
to that young guy and his wife.
Maybe when he came here he was just having a bad day.
Off the soap box now.