Zen and the Art of Woodworking

By Paul Rosenfeld

“It’s about the pride of making something,” says master wood craftsman Eric Hollenbeck. “It’s about the pride of doing for yourself.”

In this cinematic profile, Hollenbeck explains the restorative power of building your own designs. The Vietnam veteran, who first deployed to combat at age 19, uses woodworking as both an escape and a form of healing. Through his work, he also helps others find an outlet (and sometimes even a job) for their creative passions. Hollenbeck teaches struggling high school students, and recently started work on a program for returning war veterans. “When you make something,” says Hollenbeck. “When you go through the process, all the steps, and at the end you have a finished product, that you made with your own hands, out of your own mind, that is your own design; it’s a reflection of your soul.”

The short documentary from filmmaker Ben Proudfoot focuses on Hollenbeck’s work at Blue Ox Millworks in California, but more broadly it celebrates humanity's limitless potential. “The engineer and designer who engineered the golden gate bridge engineered a bridge he knew full well could not be built,” says Hollenbeck. “But he had complete faith in the craftsmen of the time to get the job done; and they did.”

To see more from Ben Proudfoot visit breakwaterstudios.com.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/video/archive/2014/01/zen-and-the-art-of-woodworking/282854/