As our remodel project nears completion, I marvel at the warm woodwork that has taken shape before my eyes. The moldings and book cases, the stained wood ceiling, the precision of the fine joinery – all have come together to create as much a piece of art as a room addition. Tray, the master builder on our project, has spent days carefully measuring and fitting pieces of wood together in flawless miters and joints. Sanding, measuring, and trimming, he so carefully looks over his work and feels the pieces he is working with – touching the wood to make sure it is smooth and perfect.
The same has been true of the young man who laid the tile. On his hands and knees, one tile at a time, he created a completely random pattern which he placed carefully and perfectly.
As I watched the work unfold, I found myself wondering,
“Who is the next generation of skilled craftsmen?”
As I discussed this with Tray, he confirmed my fear that many of the men in his industry are older gentlemen. He does not see this current generation rushing to enter the fields where working with your hands is a valued commodity. The tech revolution, along with a media that claims that a traditional college education is the only viable path, could be leading us to a time when skilled tradesmen are few and far between.
In this world of instant gratification and virtual commerce, will we lose our appreciation of the hand-crafted? Who will fill the need for future stone masons, metal smiths, and wood workers? As I run my hand over the satin finishes which are nearly complete, I hope I will never need to find out.