Sunday, June 01, 2014

take a cube... Froebel, holzschnitzer

Many men carry knives that may serve as dead weight in the pockets, or may be used to scrape  dirt from under fingernails.  We like pulling them out and offering, "let me cut that."

I am in the process of investigating Froebel's second gift. In the kindergarten product marketing extravaganza that came about after Froebel's death, his simple gifts became rather complex, both in their design and in how they were made.

In thinking WWFFD? (What would Friedrich Froebel do?)  and as a starting point, one comes up with different answers than one would arrive at if one were to ask, "How did Milton Bradley manufacture such wonderful products to sale to the Kindergarten market?" My own first thought as to how Herr Froebel would have made a ball would be that he turned it on the lathe. Being an experienced woodworker, my thoughts gravitate toward the more complex tools that I might use.  Froebel, having been a forester's apprentice in his early years, would undoubtedly have been acquainted with the use of a spring pole lathe from having watched bodgers at work. But we have no direct evidence of his having used a lathe. Instead, we do have evidence that he was skilled in the use of the knife. The law of parsimony applies to the discovery of truth in that principles based on the fewest assumptions may indeed be the closest depiction of reality. To assume that Froebel used a lathe, when it is  proven that he was skilled with a knife may lead us away from the simplicity in which the gifts were created.
Oc′cam's ra′zor
the principle in philosophy and science that assumptions introduced to explain a thing must not be multiplied beyond necessity, and hence the simplest of several hypotheses is always the best in accounting for unexplained facts.
Also called law of parsimony.
 Here are simple instructions for whittling a ball with a knife. First start with wood that is easy to carve and cut it into a cube only slightly larger than the size of the ball you hope to cut. Use a pen and straight edge to mark corner to corner, finding the center of each side. Subsequent marking will have to do with the overall size of the intended sphere, but marking as shown in the illustration will provide a clear starting point. Use a small 45 degree combination square to mark caddy corner lines intersecting each radius at the corners. These lines will help guide the removal of stock and turn the cube into a 14 sided object. If you are unconcerned, however, with the final size, just begin with a knife and start cutting corners. Keep turning and removing material until you are satisfied with its shape.

A small template, cut to the intended radius of the sphere, made from cardboard, thin plywood or Masonite will help guide your whittling and gradual removal of stock. At one time men had regular use for their pocket knives. By being engaged in thoughtful, creative working meditations, they found greater peace in their lives. Carving a small ball for the fascination of a child can work wonders, bringing joy to the child and peace to the elder.

Make, fix and create...

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