Jigsaw puzzles appeal to many people because the scrambled mess has a decisive solution. Usually, because the path to success is printed on the outside of the puzzle’s cardboard box. Build the edges first and then fill in the center. The strategy is fairly simple. The execution presents the delightful journey.
Building a bookshelf without plans is like dumping several jigsaw puzzles on to a table top, throwing away their cardboard boxes, and trying to create one solution from the many parts.
After selecting boards for the shelves, sides, supports, and legs, I started cutting the pieces to fit.
One of the therapeutic aspects of working with your hands is the tactile creation of the project. So much of what I do for a living is done by proxy. I design images for print and web. But I never touch the art. A pointer displayed on a screen by way of a handheld device that tracks two-dimensional motion allows me to design a variety of material. But it also presents a barrier. Glass, metal, and plastic separates me from the art I created. Should the art maker and the art object be divided in such a manner?
The physicality of this salvaged-wood, no-plan bookshelf presented joy. The smell of the sawdust. The feel of the drill boring into hardwood. The motion of sanding off the rough edges.
Sure, there were some mistakes. A board was too warped to use. Another board split when screwed in place. Four legs that do not match. But that is part of the riddle. Part of the delight.
When the assembled jigsaw pieces from several puzzles were set on the grass one weekend, it resembled a bookshelf.