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Wood works.

WHO? Mark R. Thomas

WHAT? Executive Vice President

WHERE? Oklahoma Press Association, Oklahoma City

WHEN? Since 1995

Q: What do you do to offset the pressures of your work?

A: Building and making things with wood is what I enjoy the most. My dad was a school principal and also a shop teacher, so all of my life I've been around chisels, saws, hammers, and other tools. When my brother and I were kids, we'd turn out coffee tables and sell them for $10 apiece; we drought it was a great way to make some extra money. Now, I find that working with wood has other qualities that I appreciate.

Q: What kinds of things do you make?

A: he shape and kind of wood have a lot to do with what takes shape. I might come across a nice piece of mahogany--or if someone is cutting down a tree, I'll ask for a slice of the trunk. I end up making whatever I think that unique piece of wood should look like.

I make things from birdhouses to small bowls and tables. I can get consumed by the work; concentrating on the details forces me to slow down. You can't rush sanding, finishing, and sanding again. You really need to be patient to do this delicate kind of work. You can also set things down and be gone from them for a while.

I usually make things for other people, often small things that I can sit with on the porch and carve and finish. I have earned, however, that the key is not to get into someone else's timetable, committing to something for a birthday or holiday. I don't introduce any more deadlines into my life.

Q: Where do you work?

A: One of the nice things about this is that I don't have to go anywhere. I can simply go home, or I often go to my dad's place. He's still got all of his tools, and he'll sit and watch me--and give advice as if I were still 12 years old.

Q: Why is it that you haven't tired of this activity?

A: At the end of a round of golf, I've had a good time, shot a good score--but now it's over. With woodworking, I have something tangible. Both my wife and I have hand-me-down items that someone made especially for us. She has her name carved in a piece of wood by her grandfather, and I have some things made by my dad. They may not be beautiful works of art, but they have a sort of meaning that you can't replace.
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Title Annotation:Keeping Your Edge; interview
Publication:Association Management
Article Type:Interview
Date:Dec 1, 2003
Previous Article:ASAE leadership.
Next Article:Midwestern update.

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