A gauge is a tool that expresses the maker’s intention. Grain is the message the wood brings to us, telling a story of how the tree lived, what it experienced, and what it would like to be. Working with wood in a sensitive way requires a balance between the will of the maker and the will of the wood.
I’m Alex Moseley, and Gauge & Grain is my labor of love.
“I just want to make stuff.” It’s sort of a mantra for me. If I go more than a few days without making something, I get twitchy. I guess you could call that creative energy. That could be.
Wood offers a challenge and complexity that sustains my curiosity. Wood has a will of its own. You have to tune in to what it wants to be. Working with wood in this way leads to beautiful discoveries, like the polished surface that a handplane leaves on walnut, or the smell of sawdust in the air when I’ve been cutting dovetails by hand. I think if someone could make a cologne with hints of walnut, I’d wear it.
When I discover something beautiful in wood, something unexpected, sometimes I’ll be so excited, I’ll bring the workpiece inside to show my wife, Bonny. Sometimes I’ll post a picture to Instagram to share with friends. It’s a great part of the process when I can show those discoveries to others and we can share in the excitement and see an object come together.
Craft and Love
There’s very much a sense of love in what I do, in the way a child expresses her love by making something. She comes to you with her creation in hand and says “look what I made for you.” What she really means is “this represents my love for you. I hope you accept it.” I try to capture a little of that in the way I work. I want people to be delighted, to come to my studio and have a look at how things are coming along, to talk through how a piece should come together. I love that collaboration, and I want it to be fun.
When I think back, some of the best gifts I’ve received over the years have been handmade. Bonny has made me scarves that I absolutely love. I have a dresser-top box my dad made me for Christmas when I was a kid. It still sits on my chest of drawers, in the center. I remember how proud I was to see my name carved in the top.
I’m lucky, I guess, in that I haven’t forgotten the link between creativity and love. I still express love by making something, whether it’s our Thanksgiving meal or a crochet hook for my wife. That’s another reason I find wood so inspiring. There’s something essential about it. You can fulfill so many of life’s basic needs with wood. It’s warm, it’s beautiful, and it’s versatile. You can make the table and chairs, the cooking utensils, the salad bowl and soup spoons, all from wood if you want. Humanity has been doing just that for millennia.