Moving things inside

I never thought that making pens would become what it has for me. I can’t even tell you exactly how it started. I remember a conversation with my dad in February when I asked him about his experience with using a lathe in Karachi, Pakistan to cut marble. As if by magic, about a month later, I had my very own lathe and a beginner’s pen turning kit.

It was love at the first turn, as it were. My fear was infused with excitement. It was an experience like none I’ve had before. Every time I turn that lathe on, a buzz flows through me. I’m excited for the possibility of making something entirely unique.

Slowly, I’ve built up a little balcony-based workshop. I have a workbench and a whole bunch of tools, most of which are new to me. I’ve used epoxy resin, which I didn’t even know existed. I’ve worked with wood from all over the world. YouTube is now recommending an inordinate number of woodworking videos to me and I’m watching them.

Woodworking is a mesmerising rabbit hole. There’s a tool called a centre punch that’s only meant to put a small dent in the wood where you want to start drilling a hole. That’s its job. I have had to learn how to properly sand wood, sharpen tools, choose the appropriate type of glue, and choose what types of disposable towels are best. I’ve become more inclined to fix or build things instead of replacing or buying them new. My dad mentioned that he’s happy to see that I problem-solve more, whereas before I would just go buy a solution. It’s incredible.

Now that the temperatures outside are hovering around 0º C, I can’t stand outside and work. My ability to withstand the cold has declined in proportion to the length of time that I’ve lived in the big smoke. I’ve also been soft but now I’m turning into pudding. In any case, I moved things inside because I need to find “winter projects” to work on. There are a lot of different things that I want to try but I’m not sure what I’ll actually end up doing.

Here are some of the things that have floated through my head:

  • cardboard marble runs
  • wood boxes
  • cat toys
  • handmade paper
  • greeting cards
  • short stories
  • resin art
  • a website for SANA Stationery & Gifts

I really don’t know. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve done little outside of work and it’s been great. I’m not too good with feeling unproductive for very long so it’s time for me to start doing something. Moving my workbench and tools inside was the first step. Next, all I have to do is start something — anything.

It doesn’t matter what I start next because it can change. Simply putting in the time to learn something new is well worth it. Failure is an unjustly pejorative concept. There is a lot of value in trying something for the process, not the product. We shouldn’t measure value based exclusively on outcomes.

This focus on process has led to a truly unexpected and discomforting outcome: a confidence that is newly formed, unnerving, and confusing. I’m quite unsettled by this. It’s ironic. It’s a cognitive dissonance that has me looking at and thinking of myself in the third person while still experiencing uneasiness firsthand.

I didn’t know that making pens would do all of this.


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