Tuesday, June 26, 2012

luxuriating in the company of one's own hands...

twin bridges onto Verona Island, Maine
I and my students have been busy at CFC. In the classroom next door, master craftsman Pete Schlebecker has begun veneering with a fresh set of students, the 12 week students are finishing small benches with hand cut dovetails, and the studio fellows are crafting re-formulations of what furniture can be. Yesterday I began making a dovetailed box from birdseye maple. My students are each on personal missions. Their boxes started out looking the same, but they have each followed tangents to my own work as they explore their own inclinations. I began making inlay yesterday as a demonstration to the class, and will finish that today. Normally my box making classes are more rushed than this, offering less time for students to explore. Here, with a relatively small number of students, I've been able to give each student the individual time they need without taking anything away from those students who are more confident to race away on their own.

As part of my reading material for this trip, I brought the latest issue of Wooden Boat Magazine. I could name the issue, though that is almost irrelevant. It has a boat on the front as always. Also as always, it contains the best and most direct advocacy of hands-on learning of any publication outside this blog. For instance, this issue has a supplement "Getting Started in Boats" that addresses the acquisition of tools. It also describes the journey of Chinese amateur sailors who sailed an original junk from Taiwan to San Francisco with even loftier goals in mind. Every story in Wooden Boat Magazine offers some reflection on what it means to work with one's hands, and I wish American woodworking magazines and tool manufacturers could have confidence to become so direct. Instead, all but a few seem content to lollygaggle around the issue instead of tackling education head-on as we must for the future of our children, our schools and our culture.

Peter Korn, director of Center for Furniture Craftsmanship pointed out a review of Shop Class as Soulcraft in the New Yorker that takes a more critical view of the book, taking it apart in view of its weightier predecessors. My readers might enjoy that review.  Fast bikes, slow food, and the workplace wars. by Kelefa Sanneh. I took a less critical approach to Crawford's book, feeling relieved to see anyone addressing the values of work in a best selling book. My own contribution to the book at the start of chapter one was for me the best part, as think I stated succinctly what it should have been all about. The reviewer was disappointed that Shopclass as Soulcraft did so little to point to any kind of solution, but that is what my books will be about.

Yesterday I neglected to take photos, so for eye candy from Maine I offer a view of the new bridge along US Highway 1 passing onto Verona Island at Ft. Knox, Maine. As I drove home in driving rain on Saturday, torrents of rain were flowing down the long tubes which connect the road bed to the towers, and I wondered whether the designers knew that would happen. I for one hope the old bridge is kept in place. Compare and contrast this bridge with Bill's sawdust path through the woods.

 Today, like my students, I start school with a mission. The dovetailed box knows right where I left off.

 Make, fix and for your own sake create...

1 comment:

Nick said...

I have just stumbled upon your blog via Google. How i agree with you about the use of our hands,but also all our senses, for learning.To be able to create,construct or repair is much more important than the desk jobs we are pushing our young people to learn.Give them the practical skills that will be with them forever and could save them a lot of cash, when they do not need to pay other people to do jobs for them.