Tuesday, May 12, 2009

shed culture

Check out the Institute for Backyard Studies, an Australian site for the making of things and seat of the pants engineering. The site is the brainchild of Mark Thomson, originator of the Blokes and Sheds Series, and Makers, Breakers and Fixers. Institute for Backyard Studies is a fun site with great links and dedicated to hands-on ingenuity.


Anonymous said...

Greetings from England. Great set of links. One of the best resources I have found is Lindsay publishing (On your side of the Pond, Illinois) which has an incredible collection of rare and formerly out of print books on craft and technical topics see here http://www.lindsaybks.com/ If you want to learn how to build a lathe from scratch by sandcasting all the parts, Lindsay is your man!
All "wisdom of Hands" readers will find something of interest. Cheers, Iain

Doug Stowe said...

Thanks, I'll check it out. You know the world all had a good laugh when the Chinese started their great backyard steel making adventure in 1958. The following is from Wikipedia:

"With no personal knowledge of metallurgy, Mao encouraged the establishment of small backyard steel furnaces in every commune and in each urban neighborhood. Huge efforts on the part of peasants and other workers were made to produce steel out of scrap metal. To fuel the furnaces the local environment was denuded of trees and wood taken from the doors and furniture of peasants' houses. Pots, pans, and other metal artifacts were requisitioned to supply the "scrap" for the furnaces so that the wildly optimistic production targets could be met. Many of the male agricultural workers were diverted from the harvest to help the iron production as were the workers at many factories, schools and even hospitals. Although the output consisted of low quality lumps of pig iron which was of negligible economic worth, Mao had a deep distrust of intellectuals and faith in the power of the mass mobilization of the peasants. Moreover, the experience of the intellectual classes following the Hundred Flowers Campaign silenced those aware of the folly of such a plan. According to his private doctor, Li Zhisui, Mao and his entourage visited traditional steel works in Manchuria in January 1959 where he found out that high quality steel could only be produced in large scale factories using reliable fuel such as coal. However, he decided not to order a halt to the backyard steel furnaces so as not to dampen the revolutionary enthusiasm of the masses. The program was only quietly abandoned much later in that year."

When you set people to work doing things, you transform, not only the material, but the maker, too is materially transformed. You set a nation at work, learning, and even failing, and you've laid the seeds of radical transformation. Too bad Chairman Mao was such an outrageous criminal.

Doug Stowe said...

Oh, yes, Thanks for the link.