This is a guest blog from Austin Mackrill, the man who made the tables at which you will dine at Jack&June
The story began with an idea from some friends…like a Ray of Hope. The goal was to create community via outdoor dining in our neighborhoods on 10 foot farm tables. That was just a year ago, but those four handcrafted tables have created what feels like years of rich memories. Memories within community that occurred while gathering up the reclaimed wood and constructing them. Memories within community that occurred while dining at them. Memories of birthday gatherings, a place to showcase and savor a harvest, and undefined simple celebrations of just being together…of community.
The reality and history of a table at which one dines is quite fascinating when you sit back and open a tab of contemplation. Next time you are dining at your favorite restaurant, press pause on your conversation and deny your smartphone to have access for a few moments. Just gaze and ruminate what each diner is experiencing right then and there. Then try and visualize what the diner before them experienced and so on. If only tables could talk. Each table would have such a rich history of the events and memories that occurred on their surface and around them. Such may include the engagement of a young couple or possibly a painful breakup of another. An endearing reunion of friends from years of separation or possibly a lonely diner wishing they could experience the same. An idea birthed on a napkin pinched between it’s surface by the frantic scribbling of a pen or a crumpled one falling to it’s surface from the aggravation of a diner who recently experienced shattered dreams or pain.
The richness and depth of a table is one reason why I am so honored to have been part of making the tables for Jack and June. However, it wasn’t I alone. It was a community of people that helped make them special. If you look underneath each table right next to the branded number, you will see my brand: “Handcrafted by Austin Mackrill & Co.” The “Co.” stands for community…the essential ingredient within the table recipe. If you make your way to table 47, you will see each community member’s signature branded underneath. That is part of the story. Each table has it’s own story as well, hence the reason for numbering each one in sequential order off of the line, 1-47. I clearly recall the process of making table 29. Troy Kirk and I pulled out one of the 18 foot boards to start cutting. We both quickly noticed this board had something special. The old-growth pine that birthed this board must have been enormous, old, and strong. It had shocking character. As we cut the three 37” pieces from this board to make the table, we both agreed this would be “our table”. It would be the table we would dine at with our wives to create new memories and reminisce past ones. Well, after the 11 step process, table 29 is beautiful and ready for your memories…ready to be a part of your story…just like the other 46 tables.
Each of us has a story, and those stories are garnished with significant sweet spots. Those sweet spots are moments in life when we simply and deeply feel “on.” A time in which the chaos of life slows down long enough for us to recognize that we were made to be doing what we are doing right there in that moment. We feel our hearts pick up tempo, and we are a little more alive than prior to that moment. This table project for Jack&June was one of those experiences for me. The two raw materials set before me were wood and community. The opportunity and call was to make good tables. The combination of what this opportunity offered, gave me the chance to live one of those sweet spot moments in table making.
What’s your raw material? Search it. Ponder it. Define it. Then go and make good tables.