John Gray is a retired woodworking craftsman who expresses a sense of profound gratitude for the inspiring growth opportunity he has found at Makers Mill. “By participating in Makers Mill, I have learned to look at things through the eyes of the learner…the beginner,” says John who deeply appreciates this sense of renewal. It is a sense of renewal based on this opportunity to function as a member of a highly creative and interactive community. For him, Makers Mill is indeed a gift. It has gifted him with an expansive and highly motivational opportunity to share his creative spirit with an interactive community of “doers.”
John discovered Makers Mill when he was riding by the structure one day and decided to stop in because he had heard they had a woodshop. He says that at the time he was seventy years of age, officially retired, and was feeling it was time to show other people how to make things. Despite his age at the time, John does admit that in actuality he was only semi-retired and still had his hands in a few projects with customers who did not want to let go. Additionally, he was also doing some work with Lake Life Living, a service for home care and maintenance in Wolfeboro. However, he was convinced it was time to share his knowledge and skills and to show others how to make things, and how to create with wood.
One of John’s most recent teaching sessions was focused on making wooden spoons and spatulas. He recalls there were six participants in the session including a married couple, none of whom were members of Makers Mill. All of them were drawn to this activity by the desire to work with their hands and create with wood.
John moved from Andover, MA, to Wolfeboro in 1973, and eventually, John himself built a home in Tuftonboro. He deeply values this location which gives him access to the many surrounding lakes and waterways. John has a boat and especially loves to go fly fishing when he can get over to the coast. Asked about the seasons, John chooses the arboreal beauty of the fall as his favorite time of year.
John does have a pet, a cat rescued from the organization Darbster Foundation in Manchester. Her name is Honeybell. “She does limp and bump along,” John affirms, but now John is comforted by the fact that his pet has a safe and caring home.
John’s vision for his participation in Makers Mill is to build an open and flexible program in which participants can build things and he can be present and available to offer his help in answering questions, finding and supplying appropriate tools, and building along with the learners.
In his next class at Makers Mill, John wants to give a course on making picture frames. He also wants to spend more time there so he can be available to help and support participants.
John Gray deeply respects and admires the profound and meaningful message of Makers Mill that is provided, nurtured, and promoted with ongoing support. That message to the human community is that we can change our focus and replace a “throw-away” society with a society that focuses on fixing things, and repairing things. The message that we can repair rather than replace with more, more, more is a very positive motivation for extending time, life, and usability. It is a value changer.
One of the projects John is focused on now is making lamps. “Yes,” he affirms. “You can make your own lamp. I have used firewood to make lamps and spoons.” John points out that firewood can become the material, the lumber, for the creation of new products. In this way, once again we can renew rather than destroy.
This is the theme that characterizes John Gray’s participation in Makers Mill. He believes we can focus on extending life and usefulness rather than replacing it. And we can do this collectively with our own hands.
From John’s inspiring perspective, in a society that is based on constant acquisition, Makers Mill offers an extremely valuable opportunity to step away from this drive to acquire and engage ourselves in this dedication to renew and extend with our own creative energy.