Last fall, when my daughter and I both fell temporarily to the covid plague, one of my respites was sitting at my computer with Wee Jamie the Wonder Grandson in my lap, watching various videos on YouTube. We were not exactly sick … just not very well; easily tired, devoid of energy and interest in anything that lasted very long. Wee Jamie had a low-grad temperature for a day or so, and sniffles, so his health was never in any particular danger. Neither was ours, once some serious drugs had knocked out the covid-induced pneumonia … but the two of us, Wee Jamie and I came away from those weeks with a decided fondness for ten or a dozen YouTube series – some of the home renovation off-the-grid living, a couple of ‘build a shelter from raw materials and a few basic tools’ – look, hard work fascinates me, I could watch it for hours. (Our Restoration Nation, Red Poppy Ranch, Trent & Allie, Lesnoy_Craft … respectively, various locations in the south, somewhere in the inland northwest, in Utah, and somewhere in … maybe Russia? We also liked some of the model-building shows; one an Australian, the other a German, both of whom do the most amazing dioramas and small structures. Luke Towan, and Samy-Modelblau. Oh, the things that you can make from thick cardboard, and a range of model-making supplies! And wire … and resin…
But the ones that we liked the best, and from which I came away from with a severe case of power-tool envy were the various renovation/restoration channels; a variety of specialists doing amazing things in renovating, refinishing, and repairing old furniture, restoring seriously wrecked and rusted agricultural or domestic items, and restoring them to attractive functionality. It’s kind of soothing, watching rust being blasted away in a sand-blasting booth. I so wish now that I had been permitted to take wood and metal shop in junior high school – instead of cooking and sewing. I already knew how to cook and sew … but this was when shop classes were strictly reserved for the boys, and the home-making sills were likewise reserved for girls. (You know – back before the Noachian flood. Although Dad did his best to teach my brothers and sister and I, outside of school.)
The thing that does get me is that these various specialists really ran the gamut of nationalities – and that some of them never even appeared as more than their hands, doing the work. Veradona Restoration is Czech, AT Restoration, as near as I can figure out, is based in Estonia, in the Baltic States. LADB is French, and so mysterious that all one ever sees of the experts featured is their hands. I think that there are three of them – one young, one middle-aged, one old, just to judge from close-ups of the hands doing the detail work – woodwork, metal fabrication, rust removal. They have a charming ginger cat-familiar hanging about the incredibly-well equipped workshop; Avril, who appears in most episodes.
Then there is Epic Upcycling, featuring a stone-faced Canadian carpenter-genius, who builds the most ornate and substantial furniture out of old pallets and miscellaneous scrap. Seriously, never give this man an acre of old shipping containers, I think he would build a whole fantastically-original city, or at least a suburb out of them. The pieces of furniture are fantastic – complicated, ornate … and he builds his own metal hinges, handles, locks and stuff. My thought is that of course, the designs are that ornate because the wood he builds them out of is basically waste product, of which (from the occasional glimpses of his wood stash) he may have cornered the available market in used pallets. What he could do with fine wood would rival anything built for Versailles. Or any other 17th, 18th or 19th century palace.
Ah, the pleasures of watching knowledgeable craftsmen and women at work … although I am pretty certain that all the disasters are off-camera or edited out.
(cross-posted at NCO Brief.com Almost a year ago, I had posted here about how we were all watching different things, through YouTube, and kicked off a long and rewarding discussion thread.)