Who Inspires Jamie?
One of the questions we are asked is “who inspires you?” People expect me to reference the work of great designers and furniture makers. However, it is the material itself that plays a large part in my philosophy.
When the Japanese architect, Kiyosi Seike, (1918-2005) said “I cannot help believing in the divine nature of a tree when I see that through some mysterious inspiration it has been enhanced and transformed into artistic expression”, he expressed my feelings about my work.
There are two people who continue to inspire me although neither of them are still with us–my parents. They have shaped both my creative thought and my work ethic. My mother and father adhered to 4 principles:
- For your life’s work, find something that makes you happy. You will have a more interesting life and you will succeed at it because you will practice, practice, practice!
- Whatever you choose to do, do it 100%. Sometimes a piece doesn’t quite turn out as well as I hoped. Instead of saying it’s good enough, I remake it. I burned the top of The Rubaiyat chess table and now I am satisfied with the new version.
- Respect yourself, others and Mother Earth. My parents treated everyone well, and being farmers (as were their parents) respecting the land was ingrained. I definitely respect the fact that it takes 50-125 years for my raw material to grow.
- Never quit learning. It’s a big, wonderful universe out there and learning anything keeps your mind sharp. My father never stopped reading about farming and current affairs and experimenting with new (to him) woodworking tools. My mother started sewing when she was 12 and was always trying to improve her sewing techniques. Asked to mentor Fashion Design students, she learned to use an industrial sewing machine at the age of 98.
The influence of my mother and father is reflected in my work. Their philosophy colored how I create.
We have an interconnectedness and interdependency on the natural world and items made of wood can represent and express that. Wood is a product of nature, something beyond humanity. The pieces I create could not be made of any other material. Trees are natural and supernatural. I truly believe a piece is incomplete unless shared.
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