Learning by Doing
Photo: "There are times when you have to learn by doing."
For the longest time I have been fascinated by all the things you can do with concrete. I wanted to make planters or garden patio blocks or even larger troughs for water. I bought several books and read like crazy. I went to see what other people did, people who didn’t look more talented than me, but I never did anything. I just continued to read about projects. I was just afraid to try it on my own.
Just recently I realized my neighbor, who has a day job that requires much thinking and writing, is a sort of wizard with concrete. He has created benches, planters, steps, table tops, plaques, and even a new bathroom counter with an under hung sink! Most of his work is in the yard but the quality of his tables would be at home in any kitchen or dining room. And to my great excitement he was willing to walk me through a project of my own. It took me a few weeks to actually make a decision on what to do since I had been playing with ideas for so long. I finally decided to create a new concrete top for my gardening bench. I even broke up an old necklace I got in Bosnia to add beads and coins to the top.
It was hard work, dirty and tiring. There are so many steps to get to the end product: creating a template, building a frame, mixing the concrete, pouring into the frame, adding the broken glass and beads, letting it dry, and then grinding grinding grinding till you get the finish you want. It was clear to me as I was working as the sorcerers’ apprentice that it was a good thing I didn’t start a project like this without supervision. I didn’t have the right tools but more than that there are all kinds of judgments that need to be made and clearly are better with some experience behind them.
So the lesson here is that not everything can be learned from a book or on your own. There are times when you have to learn by doing. You have to get the feel or touch or smell of something to know that you are on the right path. If you are interested in doing something new and different but find that you keep stalling and just not starting, maybe you need to be an apprentice somewhere first. You too could have a neighbor or friend, or a co worker, someone, who could guide you. Learning by doing with someone who knows what they are doing is a good way to start much more than concrete projects.