In the meantime, a couple of my articles on educational sloyd have been republished in the Woodwork Magazine CD which accompanies sale of their annual issue and is available now on news stands and in book stores.
Woodwork was my all time favorite wood working magazine, as it allowed a story-telling engagement of writers while so many other woodworking magazines have a nothing-but-the-steps, how-to mentality, keeping personal expression at the minimum. But storytelling is what engages us deeply and emotionally in the subject, and the earliest issues of Fine Woodworking did that with zest. Now, though I write for that magazine, I still long for the more personal touch which editors no longer allow.
On the other hand, there is no shortage of personal interest in the magazine Wooden Boat. In the current issue, Nov/Dec 2010, Bill Schwicker describes his own journey in the construction of his second hand-crafted wooden sharpie to grace the cover of Wooden Boat. It is a shaggy dog story, including Bill's black lab, Molly and the story wanders far off course, which is where I wish woodworking magazines would lead us on occasion, reminding us that what we do in the woodshop is really about the full breadth and scope of life itself. Schwicker's article also offers a touch of philosophy including this quote from Ernest Hemingway:
There are some things that cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things, and because it takes a man's life to know them, the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave.When was the last time you read a quote from Ernest Hemingway in a woodworking magazine? In this day and age, his quote would have to be cut in half to be allowed on your tweet deck. Do Hemingway's quotes no longer belong to us? We could all learn a few things from Wooden Boat. Bill's sharpie and Molly are shown in the photo above. A sharpie has three positions to step a mast... far forward in a cat-ketch rig with the mizzen behind, and then a more central position for use with a single sail.
One thing you learn about life is that no man is an island unto himself, and that no single thing exists in and of itself. Things are connected, one to the other, and while we divide knowledge into disciplines and courses of study to simplify and narrow the scope of what teachers impart to students and to make the broad fields of knowledge manageable for convenient delivery as packets of information, all measured and approved, we all suffer from the disconnection we impart. The world is a seamless canvas upon which we are either placed as objects, or upon which we make our mark, and that mark is most significant and distinct when it is drawn with passion that comes from the emotional engagement in full breadth of it, and with a knowing of the whole thing.
For some, more conditioned to tweets and no longer accustomed to discourse as humans once were, to read this long blog post would be a form of self-inflicted verbal abuse, having physiological effect. But there can be a quickening and slowing of the paces of the heart as we are drawn into meanders, set courses on the by road, and fall into stories told askance. To lives one's life in those places where the wind catches and fills your mizzen is the path of craftsmanship. Make, fix, create.
Today in the CSS woodshop, students worked on woodturning, and several students became interested in working with wire and pliers making steel chain and jewelry. My friend who made the contribution of jewelry tools would have been pleased to have seen the response.