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The Story of My Sister

She did a crazy thing: woodwork every day.

I'm Peter. I have a sister, Ying. We come from a carpenter family. I want to tell the story of my sister here.

They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. Persistence is key to success and if you can commit to doing the same thing each day every day, you can eventually become an expert at it.

What about if you do woodwork every day? As long as you dare to battle with yourself fiercely and commit to a routine, your potential will soar and you will achieve a previously unimaginable level of mastery. And that is what my sister did.

Before my sister Ying was exposed to woodwork, she was an outrageous "destructor". She liked to deconstruct and rebuild things sometimes destroying them in the process. However, with wood the story was different. The wood seemed warm and nurturing to her. She had a large box that she used to store Longwood trees collected from all over the world. The rarest of them was Swamp Oak inherited from our grandfather. It had lain in a swamp for over a century and was essentially a fossil.

Our grandfather was a carpenter. When my sister was a child, our grandfather gave her a special birthday gift every year - woodworking tools. The first tool she received was a small machete. Under the guidance of our grandfather, she learned how to carve a simple V-shape curve into a piece of wood.

In carpentry, my sister’s favourite is the wooden spoon. When observing the purchased Japanese tableware, she was fascinated by the spoon's shape and curves. "The knife is great, the fork is like punishment, but the spoon, with its bowl-like arc and the elegant outline, makes me think it is unique in the world." What if the unique texture of wood and the curve of the spoon are combined? She started thinking about the relationship between the material and the shape and began to make her very own wooden spoons.

Once, my sister was talking to a colleague and the colleague said casually: "If you like woodworking so much, why don't you try making one item every day and see if you can stick to it for a year?" "Why not?", thought my sister, and that is how her work plan was born.

She started her "daily work plan" and everyone around her thought she was crazy. Every day after returning from work, she hid in her studio sketching and creating, surrounded by piles of messy tools and wood. A simple wooden item can be carved in an hour and a half, and if it is complicated, it takes at least three hours or even a whole day, and that is not including the time needed for careful polishing.

My sister likes to create wooden tableware with respect to the relationship between the wood itself and the hand tools that she is using. This makes each one of her woodworking projects so unique.

"I will also use some deformed wood, and I will deliberately not carve it into a perfection, but rather follow its natural grain and shape."

She began to enjoy this artistic experimentation. It was a conversation between the wood and the tools. She lets the wood dictate the shape of the piece and take on a life of its own, and this approach turns every piece of wood in her hands into a wonderful surprise. 

"Woodwork experiments helped me to develop a new way of thinking, and they have taken me out of my comfort zone. Every time I make a piece, I must not repeat it. This kind of manual exploration is very interesting!"

Craftsmanship has always been seen as monotonous and repetitive work. But in my sister’s opinion, it is not at all. Obsessive people can find God in craftsmanship such as woodwork, can’t they?