Hoopla

Shaping wood shapes Harp's life

ROBERT SEBREE

Carpenter Clint Harp found fame through HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” and his own show, “Wood Work,” on the DIY network. He’s coming to Cedar Rapids this weekend to share his life experiences in two celebrity discussions during the inaugural newbo evolve festival.
ROBERT SEBREE Carpenter Clint Harp found fame through HGTV’s “Fixer Upper” and his own show, “Wood Work,” on the DIY network. He’s coming to Cedar Rapids this weekend to share his life experiences in two celebrity discussions during the inaugural newbo evolve festival.
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Clint Harp has traveled a long and winding road from carving pinewood derby cars in his youth to creating heirloom furnishings on HGTV’s “Fixer Upper,” then hosting his own show, “Wood Work,” on the DIY network.

The popular carpenter who’s ready to tackle any project first had to wrestle with himself.

His heart won, and he walked away from a six-figure salary selling medical infusion equipment that allows people to do IV care at home.

“I worked for a great company, but when it’s not what you want to do, then it’s soul-crushing,” Harp, 40, said by phone from Waco, Texas.

“I had this certain idea of, ‘Here’s what you have to have in order to go for your dreams or be successful.’ And the reality is, the only thing you have to have is you. That’s it.”

Still, leaving a sure thing to strike out on his own wasn’t a quick or easy decision.

“It was a process over years, really, of fighting with myself,” he said, “which I think we do. All of us, as humans, fight with ourselves over things. We know in our gut this is what we should do, and sometimes our gut isn’t always right. ...

“With my own story, it was years before I made a decision. So I don’t tell people, ‘Hey, I told you to go and quit your job today. Do it.’ No — take some time, take a breath, really consider things and understand what’s in front of you, for sure.”

He’ll be sharing his life glimpses and experiences as one of the celebrity speakers at this weekend’s newbo evolve festival. His presentations are slated for 4 to 5 p.m. Friday (8/3) and 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday (8/4) at the DoubleTree by Hilton Cedar Rapids Convention Complex, 350 First Ave. NE. His Harp Design Co. also will be part of the pop-up shops at 221 Third Ave. SE from Friday through Sunday.

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“I had to finally face myself and the things that I was going through,” he said. “I think oftentimes we have this anxiety, maybe it’s depression or whatever it is. All of those things are real, and I’m not suggesting otherwise. But maybe that’s something inside of you saying your life isn’t right.

“You need to pay attention to your body, your mind. All the chemicals in your body are pointing to your life is not as good as it could be right now. You’re not waking up being who you were meant to be, and maybe when we find that person, maybe some of those other issues are solved or maybe they become clear.”

Even though he changed career courses, he said he still has days where he feels anxious, depressed or upset — but not at the same level as before.

Woodworking helps soothe his soul.

“There’s a rhythm to it,” he said. “I saw a quote earlier, something like ‘Salt is the key to solving all your problems,’” by crying salty tears, working or working out to create salty sweat, or going to the salty ocean.

“That’s one of things about woodworking that is such a great thing for me. I get to get into this rhythm of taking this wood, this piece of something that doesn’t look like anything, and I get to tear it apart while breaking myself down as well, because it’s hard work. Your muscles will break down, you’re tired, you’re spent, you’re emotionally exhausted,” he said.

“Sometimes you try to make this one thing fit and it won’t fit, so while you’re breaking this material down — this wood that was a happy tree at one point — and now you’ve stripped it down and cut it and sanded it, chiseled it. You’re tearing it down, and the process is also tearing you down, and if you’ll let it, it will actually heal you — just the same thing that you’re doing to the wood.

“If that wood will work with me, I’m going to make it into this beautiful thing that’ll last forever and be enjoyed by people for a long time. And the process is the same — it’s doing the same thing that I’m doing to it — tearing me down and bending me and shaping me and teaching me about life as I work through this rewarding, but sometimes frustrating process of trying to build a table or a piece of furniture.

“In a lot of cases, I don’t know how to do it. I have to figure it out. So as I work through it, it teaches me a lot, and it’s very, very rewarding.”

Get out!

WHAT: Clint Harp presentations

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FRIDAY: “Wood Work with Clint Harp,” 4 to 5 p.m., DoubleTree by Hilton Cedar Rapids Convention Complex, 350 First Ave. NE

SATURDAY: “A Conversation with Clint Harp,” 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., DoubleTree by Hilton Cedar Rapids Convention Complex

TICKETS: Three-day pass $375 plus tax and fees; reserved concert seating, access to celebrity keynote speakers and interactive sessions; U.S. Cellular Center Box Office, 1-(800) 745-3000 or <URL destination="https://www.gocedarrapids.com/newboevolve/tickets/">Gocedarrapids.com/newboevolve/tickets/

</URL>POPUP SHOPS: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday; 221 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids; exclusive to three-day festival passholders Friday (8/3), then open to the public Saturday and Sunday; stores include Harp Design Co., Barnes & Noble, MODE, Born Leaders United and more; Sephora hair and makeup demonstrations on the hour each day

DETAILS: <URL destination="https://www.gocedarrapids.com/newboevolve/eventschedule/">Gocedarrapids.com/newboevolve/eventschedule/

l Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com

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