Video: Nakashima, the 'elegant craftsman'

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The Soul of a Tree is a classic volume for woodworkers. In it, revered US/Japanese maker George Nakashima reflects on the material he loves. He shares insights into trees, their place in human culture and mythology, their growth habits and working characteristics, and the way he felt bound to honour them in the work he created. In this National Geographic video we see Nakashima, and hear him explain the significance that trees have for him.

“I guess I’m essentially a Druid”, Nakashima says. “I give you, that there are ghosts in trees, and a very deep sense that a tree is more godlike than man.…I feel that every piece of wood has an exact usage…and I have to feel they have been utilised to their utmost potential otherwise it’s a letdown for both myself and the tree.”

The video charts some of George Nakashima’s life in the USA, including his internment during the World War II. There are also glimpses of processes undertaken in his then workshop to create furniture of “elegant austerity – natural form into functional art, work that invokes Shaker simplicity and Far Eastern aesthetics”.

Courtesy of the National Geographic.

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