A few weeks ago, my wife and I embarked on a trip to Belgium for our first vacation since our honeymoon three years ago. With visions of waffles, French fries, chocolate, beautiful architecture, and amazing beer racing through our minds, I was likewise excited to spend two weeks with few (if any) thoughts related to woodworking. I lasted less than a day.
On our first day in Brussels, we found ourselves walking through the Musical Instrument Museum, and it wasn’t long before I found myself marveling at a piano lid’s amazing marquetry instead of reading the information card or listening to the recordings of how it sounds.
We also saw a display of an instrument-maker’s shop that brought to mind editor in chief Rob Johnstone’s background in lutherie, although I’m pretty sure at least a few of Rob’s tools were more modern. Check out the clamping trick that’s in process on the workbench.
The same day, we found ourselves at Autoworld, a car museum the size of an airplane hanger. In between rare cars from the likes of Auburn, Messerschmitt (yes, the fighter plane company) and beyond, we came across this wooden sports car body, and my thoughts instantly went to seeing the Splinter Car in person during the big AWFS woodworking show last year.
While in Ghent, we had the opportunity to view the Ghent Altarpiece, a wonder to anyone in its presence regardless of their religious beliefs. After looking at this magnificent piece in its final stages of a lengthy restoration, I found myself noticing and identifying the tools scattered throughout the restoration facility. Sorry for the lack of a photo; even non-flash photography was forbidden in the church and I decided not to push my luck.
During our time in Bruges, we toured the Halve Maan Brewery. While learning about its six generations of history (and before the sampling started…), we found ourselves in the brewery’s own on-site coopery, where barrels for the beer were built. In my discussions with woodworkers about barrel-making, I have consistently noticed hints of a deep appreciation for coopery. This lost art’s combination of craftsmanship and practicality was certainly on display here.
So, while I’m not really a woodworker myself (yet??), I have to say that my exposure to your comments and photos of your projects on the Woodworker’s Journal eZine and woodworking.com forum (where I am one of the moderators) has sure given me a much greater appreciation for the craft and a better eye for quality workmanship. If you’ve snapped some great woodworking shots during your travels, click here to send them in (make sure to include a description), and I’ll be happy to post them!
Internet Production Coordinator
PS – Not surprisingly, Chris Marshall suffers from (enjoys?) the same inability to turn off the woodworking thoughts while on vacation. You can read his posts from a recent trip to Africa here and here.