Driving up to Josh and his wife, Louisa's home, I felt as if I were entering another world, a peaceful, calm one. Greeted by their enthusiastic dog, Django, I bent down, scratched his back and asked him where his dad was. As I stood up I inhaled the landscape, encapsulated by woods on one side and on the other, open land with gardens, apple trees and a flock of sheep grazing under a vast sky, the sun warming the earth beneath them. I already knew it would be hard to leave this tranquil haven. I then saw two towering doors, the angled wood formed a perfect chevron pointing towards the sky. I was sure I would find Josh through them.
Entering his shop the smell of fresh cut wood flooded my senses. Despite Josh only working in the space for a year it emulated a feeling that had it been used to create for quite some time. He had built his workshop and their home which resides above both his and Louisa's work space.
My eyes were immediately drawn to a table with curved wood cuts lined up in two vertical rows. Meditation bench legs. I knew this because I admire his benches every day in my shop and even have my own at home. Seeing these legs made me feel the relaxation and my head, dissipated of all worry and anxiety when I meditated on my own.
As Josh finished his work day I admired the machinery, some dating early as the 1900’s. A million questions flooded my brain. I wanted to know how each machine worked, where it came from and could I by chance test each one out but I knew there wasn’t enough time for all that. The space felt well thought out, purposeful and organized. An open cabinet revealed different shaped chisels hanging side by side. Planers, ban saws, a monstrous machine drill, clamps and more hand-held drills I have ever seen filled the open space. Sunlight flooded the room, spotlighting the machines and locally sourced wood that leaned against the wall and lay across tables. Blank slates, waiting to be formed into kitchen counters, doors, mediation benches, cutting boards and more.
The skill and patience it requires to do Josh’s work is unimaginable. Each and every detail requires a multitude of elements. Math, structure, functionality and when it comes to his personal creations, self. It is clear where Josh’s inspiration comes from. Nature. And while yes, I did my research reading his biography on www.joshfinn.com where he describes his inspiration not only coming through nature but also his father who was a sculptor, the Shakers and George Nakashima, I guarantee if you visited Josh having no knowledge of this, you would feel it. The temptation to unhinge the doors to his workshop, home and sauna and put them in the trunk of my car was present. They are truly one of a kind pieces of art. One in particular reminded me of my favorite place in Maine. Sitting on the dock, watching the sunlight glisten on the tiny peaks of gentle ripples of water that faded into the horizon.
The thoughtfulness he puts into his work can also be appreciated in his and Louisa’s home. The placement of windows capture picturesque landscapes that one might mistake for a Corot or Constable oil painting. And the light, the light warmed every room filling it with life. Being welcomed into someone’s home is a gift and it may reveal the secret behind their creative mind. In this case, I was literally standing in Josh’s creation and I thank him and Louisa for letting me in.