A Makers Year 74: Creativity and being a Contrarian

Hello David Savage, 

I do love reading your emails…

You are a voice in the world, that i hear not often enough, and a reminder of my own voice… that isn’t loud enough…

I relish your words and am reminded of who I am.

I discover I allow myself to fall silent too often, for the voices of others are so many, and I am so tired…

I am a maker… and a creator…

My specialty is taking the imperfect, the discarded, and the unwanted, and turning it into magic…

I take the wood that literally is declared unusable by designers and makers, and use its unique faults, and imperfections, to create its own beauty and perfection.

I am in the pursuit of excellence…

Knowing that imperfection is the most perfect advantage I have…

I would like to share a piece of work with you, created by a small team of 3x wood lovers, and passionate makers…

Please disregard the ph number on this image. It is currently incorrect.


This was a commission for 20x Annual Awards created for Alcoa Presentations & Awards Night. The image on the left was a preliminary prototype, I created from scraps in the rubbish bin. The image in the centre shows a number of alternative prototypes from the initial development stage of the design process (also created from scraps in the rubbish bin)

The image on the right is the final approved prototype; using aluminium, jarrah and sheoak (species endemic to the area of the Alcoa industry). The timber we used was sourced from a discard pile, of old growth timber posts, passed over for fine furniture making. Classified as waste material, unsuitable for furniture making, and filled with faults; it was waiting to be burned. We used it to create the 20x awards.

Rachelle Walker
of Wild Twig Studios
where the Wild things are…


Hi Rachelle

Thank you for your kind comments.

In answer, you didn’t ever expect this to be easy did you? Not you, for you and I from the souls of our boots to the tip of our heads, we are both contrarians. And contrarians do not always find it easy going. There are contrarians like Jeremy Clarkson who attract a huge following for pointing a direction that is counter to the predominant feminist weak liberalism of our age . His blokeish irreverence remind men of something essential within themselves. He attracts support and criticism seemingly equal measure and doesn’t seem to give a damn.

Not giving a Damn is quite important. Contrarians like ourselves lead quieter perhaps more productive existences.  Pursuit of excellence is what we do and we know where that is, for it is within our waters we feel its existance in our own work and in others we know all about it. We don’t need critics or cultural option formers to tell us what is right and what is wrong. We feel it.  ( damn this predictive text it even wants to write the bl….y blog for me)

Being a contrarian is part of creative thinking. Fail to engage in this, and chances are your vision is being guided by fashion, more than by emotion, your emotion. In short you care too much what other people think. Soo…… Just don’t give a Damn.

To live as a contrarian you need to deal with the rubbish and nonsense that surround us 24/7 on all media. There was time when just switching to BBC Radio 4 could eliminate 40% of the crap, but not any more. WE NEED TO MANAGE THIS STUFF.  It is damaging to our souls and shutting it out is a mental action that can be done moment by moment. It is an intellectual decision to control it. Shut it down switch it off don’t listen to it. We cannot do this all day every day but hey who is perfect. Being creative at this time is really really hard and you just have to tough it out.

Most creatives fail not because they are not creative enough but because they don’t believe in themselves enough. They allow failure after failure to eat their soul. I look back from 60 odd years and see a life that i could have spent “making” a LOAD more money. I chose a path to genuinely “make.” The key to doing that with success is to know that your making is worth the lifetime spent doing it. Your lifetime.

How do you do that? Surely looking with objectivity at anything one makes is a terrifically hard. One can easily, if we don’t control our thinking, have the same feelings of worthlessness that drove great artists like Mark Rothko to suicide. But there is a way. Do what you are doing . Exhibit your work, if it sells fine, if you get nice comments fine, but that is not the reason you are doing it. Showing in public can enable you maybe just for a moment to really see the work and say … Yeah thats OK or Jeeze thats crap.  Knowing what your doing is “worth it” is a large part of success and success is just keeping going…. making.

You make lovely things but you should not need me to tell you that.

my very best wishes.

david savage


David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

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