Saturday, April 04, 2020

the making of masks.

A friend and blog reader Tim Holton sent me a link to his own blog that mentions a thing he'd read here last year about the "fabric of community." I urge you to read it because it's a beautiful piece that concerns the making of masks.

If it's N95 masks that the medical community needs, what place is there in that for the home-made? Have you wondered? Here in our own town of Eureka Springs many are making fabric masks in a project led by local clothing designer and teacher at the Clear Spring School, Mark Hughes. You can see Mark's video tutorial through this link. There is joy in feeling of service to others that I hope all come to know.

It's recommended now that we all wear masks when we go out, but is there a place for hand-made masks in hospitals? I learned from Tim Holton's post that some in the medical community are wearing hand-made masks over their N95's. They give a sense of identity and recognition to the faceless heroes of our Coronavirus catastrophe. They also protect the important N95's from being discarded due to becoming soiled.

That they are made with love should say enough.

Stay well.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning lifewise.


I heard back from a reader who began using Paper Sloyd with his stuck at home kids. Matt said,
"The ‘lesson’ was a success, despite initial grumbling. Once the kids decided for themselves that they could make the project theirs by customizing things, they were all over it. Attached is a photo."
Thanks Matt, for sharing this. I've been reflecting on the narrative qualities of wood, that: "where there's a knot, there had been a branch" and how much we are like trees. They tell their stories. We tell ours, even though we often tend to take the easy way out, by using our words, rather than mind, muscle, and hands. It makes a difference how we think of narrative. Is it only human jabber, or is it connected to deeper human experience? One difference between trees and man is that trees don't jabber.

This coming week I have a podcast with the Writer's Colony in Eureka Springs, so I've also been reflecting on the difference between how-to writers, and those who dwell upon fictional subjects. This is not to disparage other forms of writing which also require effort and imagination, but we how-to writers are held to the bonds and boundaries of the real world, and in that are empowered to bring real change to real lives. A child writing a note to Nana to fill an envelope carefully crafted from paper offers a small example of our work.

Make, fix, and create. Assist others in living and learning lifewise.

Friday, April 03, 2020

attempting to be brief...

As I've been attempting to convey lessons in woodworking to the students and parents at the Clear Spring School, I'm beginning to realize that I need to be brief. Many (even parents) will not read what I write, as reading has become hard for us in our twitter age.

Even with the corona virus slowing us down and giving us more time to read we seem to have lost the knack for long sentences.

But it's difficult for me to be brief on a subject I love so much and that's so deeply entwined in human culture to the point many don't know that it's there.

Wood and the attempt to make useful and beautiful objects from it are foundation blocks in human civilization.

So for those who don't like to read so much, I offer the following about the kits that Clear Spring School parents will pick up for their kids beginning Monday by arrangement with their core teachers or head of school.
  1. A labeled and finished sample of an Arkansas hardwood. The students are to  use the internet to learn more about the tree and the uses of its wood, then draw a picture of the tree or write a poem or observations about the tree.
  2. A block of 2 x 4 spruce (a common building material). Count the annual rings and give thought to how long it took to grow in comparison to their own lives.
  3. A sanding block with which they are to work on the 2 x 4 block, sanding to compare results, across and with the grain.
While we are in some difficult times, look at the spaces between the annual rings and notice that not all are not the same. Trees, too, grow through difficult times, and that the rings go on, tells us that we, too, will grow on to better days.

With the sanding block, I offer this warning to kids. Only use it on unfinished wood. Using it on other things will get you in big trouble.

I'll try to lay out assignments more simply in my future mailings. If you want to receive those mailings, use this link.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

number 3

I just sent out the number 3 newsletter Woodworking at Home with Kids. There are millions of kids out there, suffering from social distancing that would benefit from woodworking, a better understanding of wood and a greater respect for craftsmanship. You can help by passing the newsletter along to parents, grandparents and teachers.

If you want to subscribe, click on the link above. It offers the opportunities to subscribe, view earlier editions, and have the page translated into a language of your choice.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning lifewise.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

an easier link

A friend, Kim Brand sent an easier link for folks trying to download the Paper Sloyd book than from my drop box account.

This will be useful for those attempting to make use of my emails about woodworking at home with kids.

Viewing the email online you can subscribe, download the previous message, and thanks to google also view translations in a wide variety of languages, so world-wide, parents and children can benefit from stay at home woodworking exercises.

I received this lovely quote from Marsha:
"Behind the visible surface of things is the infinite ocean of possibility. Its waves are so beautiful and inviting. "What a wonderful world," Louis Armstrong sings. What a wonderful life, in which the playful waves in the cosmic ocean dare you, tease you, and play a game of hide and seek with you, all the time hoping that you will catch one and turn it into a beautiful poem, a painting, a song, or a wonderful act of human kindness." — Lothar Shäfer - Infinite Potential - What Quantum Physics Reveals About How We Should Live
I am reminded that we are interconnected, and perhaps that offers some consolation in challenging times. We can dwell upon our separateness and suffer the pain of isolation, or we can feel (even while sequestered) that we are not alone.

As I work alone in my shop, am I alone? There are tools there in my own hands that others have designed and crafted or that were passed down to me. And from my simple shop, there's a flow of ideas and forms that can be placed in service for others. And the woods! May I tell you about the woods? I'm overwhelmed thinking about that, so the subject will await another day. Wood will be the subject of my next news letter. You will have to subscribe to receive it.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Volume 1, number 2

I just sent out volume 1, number 2 of my newsletter series, Woodworking at home with the kids at the Clear Spring  School. If you use the link, it will allow you to subscribe and to view the first in the series if you missed it.

The photo shows an original first edition of the book Paper Sloyd along with a "wall pocket" and  a hand crafted valentine I found saved in the book.

Make, fix, create. Assist others in learning lifewise.

Monday, March 30, 2020

a review

I sent a review pdf of my new Guide to Woodworking with Kids to a very dear friend in Sweden, who had been my guide and host at Nääs, Sweden, the home of Educational Sloyd.

Though quite elderly, Hans Thorbjörnsson, wrote the following:
"Your creation Guide to Woodworking with Kids is a remarkable creation. You have brought The Teacher's Handbook(Salomon's) ... and The Theory of Educational Sloyd into the 21st century - in a much better version. Lots of photos of high quality, very instructive and filled with interested children. Drawings so easy to understand that even Rosie can use them. And best of all - your text caracterized by your passion for educational sloyd and it's good fruits, especially the co-ordination between hands och brain, Wisdom of the Hands.

"The models are adapted to children's and young students'interests, much better than Salomon's dusty ones. Carl Malmsten - remember his criticism - is applauding you from designers' heaven.

"Educational sloyd and good woodworking are most essential in our digital time. You have done your best and I feel happy to have seen it happen before I close my eyes."
Hans, a historian and teacher, had written books about Educational Sloyd and Nääs. When I met him, he was the curator of Otto Salomons library at Nääs and he has been my correspondent for years as I've delved into the history and methods of Educational Sloyd.

In his note Hans makes reference to Carl Malmsten, a Swedish designer craftsman who had been at Nääs, and later became James Krenov's teacher, and through that had a tremendous effect on American woodworking. Malmsten had caused great dissention at Nääs, as he tried to bring Sloyd forward into the 20th century. His ideas and ideals of fostering the child's creativity and responding more directly to the interests of the child were not well received at the time.

In my own shop, I'm working on designs for a bathroom bench, and preparing lessons for my next newsletter.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

a simple new look...

A simple new look. I've been making some boxes with veneered panels glued into the top. Some were left with too large a gap surrounding the panels, so my fix has been to put a fresh veneer on the top. I like it and hope you do also. Now final sanding, the installation of a lift tab on the lid and the application of an oil finish will bring these to completion.

A friend in Finland wondered about how to sell boxes for a price that reflects the effort required to make them. He mentioned living in an Ikea world in which everything was made cheap. But making is not just making. It's learning, and it gives shape to the feelings we have about ourselves. It's therapy in hard times, and gives us the ability to cope with difficult circumstances. As we pursue growth of skill, we influence those around us to do the same. And if we want to live in strong communities, we must encourage each other to do as follows:

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.