Thursday, May 06, 2010

making things is for all people

At one time, the idea of the cultural elite being involved in such things as woodworking for pleasure and expression of skill was an important one. Ellis A. Davidson's 1875 book, The Amateur House Carpenter, was written in England with its intended audience being "the English Gentleman." Davidson states,
"These pages are written for gentlemen who feel pleasure in active occupation, bringing into play their natural powers of construction, and who, having the necessary leisure, desire to make or repair numerous appliances in the house or grounds--not so much to save money as trouble and annoyance; and they may rest assured that the pleasure they will give to those whose comfort and convenience, they thus promote, will richly repay them for the time and trouble they have bestowed on the construction of any of the articles of furniture or ornament described herein."
You will note that this book was one of the earliest acquisitions of Teachers College, as its markings are of the Industrial Education Association. Teachers College was specifically created by the Industrial Education Association to promote Manual Training education. It was the first university in the US to offer advanced degrees in the manual arts. While I am extremely grateful to have received this book, I also feel that for a great university to lose touch with its original impetus is tragic. I hold this book in trust and will return it whenever our nation comes to its senses.

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