Welcome to today’s ACrafty Interview with David Tedin: carpenter, baker, basket weaver, woodworker, cook, and gardener. He is of Scandinavian heritage but has the soul of a Tuscan chef, and his biscotti is so good that he brings it to Italy (seriously!).
When did you start crafting? DT: To answer that, I would have to decide what is crafting and what is just making stuff. I can remember, before I even started school, nailing two pieces of wood together and nailing a sardine can on the back to make a truck. That would be making stuff. Because you needed something or thought it would be neat.
My family made gifts for Christmas, birthdays, and other gift-giving occasions. So I guess it started at home at an early age.
What crafts have you tried and what is your current favorite? DT: Stenciling designs on towels and pillowcases, and making shell jewelry. This was something I enjoyed doing. There were kits, with packets of different shapes and colors of seashells along with instructions. You could make earrings, pendants, pins, and brooches. I haven’t seen these kits in over 50 years.
I’ve also tried whittling, carving, hide tanning and leatherwork, model making (many of these were kits, but some went with whittling and carving), drawing, pottery, basket weaving, gardening, cooking, baking, and woodworking.
Woodworking is probably my current favorite since I now have the time, place, tools and equipment to do what I want. My woodworking now is mostly small furniture, tables, jewelry boxes, cutting boards, toys, and small projects that other people come up with for me to do.
Have you ever started a project without a pattern or plan? DT: Many times. It is part of the learning process. At times the results are amazing. Other times it comes out; what is that? Or I don’t want to do that again.
What craft project are you most proud of? DT: Here again, what is crafting? I am a retired carpenter and a craftsman by trade.
With the help of my wife Rita, we designed and built a 7,000 sq. ft. two story, solar heated home. The only things that were contracted were excavation, concrete delivery, renting a crane to set trusses, hooking up the electrical panel, and installing cable TV. Along with some help from friends pouring concrete and setting trusses, we did the rest. It took 8 years. but it was a great way to retire. Even though I had been in construction for over 20 years I learned a lot. One benefit of many years of crafting, it teaches you how to pay attention to detail.
Has a craft project ever challenged you in an unexpected way? DT: Yes. After watching a lady weaving baskets I thought that would be fun to try. After finally finding a book with instructions on basket weaving, finding the material (reed) in Southeast Alaska was not going to be easy. The basket I chose was coil with a rod core and interlocking stitches. I was a long way from the Southwest where this type of basket is made, so I went to the fishing supply store and bought rope for the core and fishing line (the type used for halibut hooks). I use this basket today when I do weaving demonstrations. It is so strong you can stand on it.
How has crafting affected your character? DT: It has made me more…
- Patient. When you are working with small pieces, messing up one part can ruin the whole project. This has carried over in my work. When you have to concentrate on getting the small pieces right, then paying attention to detail becomes much easier when working with big pieces in construction. I do not like to do the same job over because I didn’t pay attention.
- Grateful. For those people who have put up with the mess that I am sure to make with a project, and for the ability to do whatever I may choose.
- Organized. With any project, I like to have the materials ready ahead of time. It is easy to lose interest if you have to go searching for what you need next.
- Supportive. If someone shows an interest in something you are doing it is nice to be able to teach another how it is done or just talk about what you are doing. It is also enjoyable to work along side someone who is doing the same thing you are, sharing ideas and methods.
- Adventurous. Sometimes trying something new may make the stomach a little queasy. It is not only can I do this but can I do it right. It is rather exciting to try something new, but you have to want to do it. I often times had that feeling when I would start a new project in my work.
- Persistent. This is something I am still working on. Some projects have taken a long time to complete. I suppose it depends on my interest level, sometimes I can get distracted with something that looks more interesting.
- Proactive. This for me goes with being organized. Anticipating what will be needed and how it should be done. It also worked very well for me in my work.
- Independent. At times it is fun to work with others, sharing ideas and different ways to do things; at other times it is nice to be able to work alone. I find it easier to concentrate and things tend to go more smoothly. Most of all the rest of the world goes away.
- Diverse. Many different things interest me. Seeing something and wanting to try it without the fear of not being able to is great. If I mess it up or quickly lose interest I don’t do it again. The best part is finding things you like and continue doing it.
- Imaginative. After working with other people’s plans, designs, recipes, etc. and learning the basics I find it easier to adapt or do it my way with good results.
- Observant. Hopefully I have learned to see what others like and dislike; and how others accomplish some of the same things I am doing.
- Consistent. I do some things over and over the same way because other ways I’ve tried just aren’t as good. Baking biscotti is one example. With woodworking there is always something new to learn; even though you are making the same initial design. Basket making, and pottery take years of doing to make each one the same.
- Brave. Just do it.
- Calm. I’ve found that if I lose my cool or try to hurry what I am doing I usually mess it up.
Can you share a story about how your crafting has affected others? DT: I’ve taught and encouraged others who have shown an interest in what I am doing to go ahead and try it. I also have taught classes and done demonstrations to the public. I hope that when our kids were growing up my crafts made an impression on them.
What crafty goodness do you have coming up in the future? Why is it appealing to you? DT: Harvesting and selling the garlic we have raised, canning produce for the coming year. Making spice cabinets for the church bazaar; I’ve never made one before and a friend of ours wanted one modified to fit her spice jars. A half round table, because the plan I have looks interesting. A drop leaf table, a challenge to me because I have never done rule hinges. Basket weaving and baking comes with the winter months.
A special thanks to David for taking the time to do this interview. When he sent his responses back to me he said “I found out more about myself than I thought I would. Things I hadn’t thought about in years and things that I take for granted in daily life.” I always learn something from these interviews and it’s even more special when the interviewee gains from the process as well.
Dave happens to be my uncle (his wife Rita is my aunt), and their son, Chris Tedin, was featured in a previous ACrafty Interview. Another of their sons, Mark Tedin, is an artist probably best known for his continued work on Magic: The Gathering and other fantasy projects.
If you would like to contact David with questions about his crafts (or his outstanding biscotti), please contact me and I’ll be happy to relay the message…
Would you like to be a part of the ACrafty interview series? Just contact me! You might also be interested in reading some more ACrafty Interviews with multi-crafter Diane from CraftyPod, quilter Betty Busby, cross stitcher Katie Kutthroat, embroiderer Sasha of What. No Mints?, jeweler Ron Buhler, and embroiderer Ellen of Schindermania!.