Things I love


There’s something so visceral for me about the creative process; making something with my hands; being solely responsible for the end product.  I sometimes start very tentatively and the process seems to gain power as I proceed. Does the wood seem to be offering sufficient symmetry and power for the poundage I’m desiring? Am I choosing the right colors within a historical framework that both complement the imagery selected while giving maximal contrast and emotional impact?  Will it be striking? Will I like it? I MUST like it! Robes and Bows. Concurrently both my bane and my lover. The former a vocation; the latter just plain fun.

In the first days after my creations are completed I ache to be around them.  I know it sounds pathetic but it’s true. I think it might be because of the intense level of energy invested to bring them birth.  They are part of who I am and it takes a little while for the parental instinct to fade. The gravitational force seems always proportional to the perceived quality.  It’s truly a relief when their pull fades and I’m no longer craving the satisfaction dopamine. Now I can enjoy them like a normal person. Strange, maybe?

In truth, I’m a much better artist than bowyer.  My last bow was my fifth osage orange attempt and by far my best longbow.  Two of those attempts were complete failures, making classic nearly predictable novice mistakes. But this last bow?  Well….this last bow was a different animal. I committed myself to not hurrying the process, obtaining better tools and seriously listening to the counsel of friends who’ve been successfully building these things for decades.  By comparison to my previous four, fire fell on this bow. And all because I chose to do this piece in the community, move slowly, and commit myself to a much higher standard of craftsmanship. ‘Oh the protection and wisdom of the community.  “In the multitude of counselors, there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14)

Neal Armstrong