Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Again, the knife.

Today at school we had a "round robin" with students moving between work stations to practice for their camping trip next week. At one station, they discussed and agreed upon the rules. At another station, the students practiced building fires and discussed fire safety. At my station, we discussed knife safety, we talked about sharpening, practiced sharpening, and whittled green branches of cherry wood.

Even though my students frequently whittle in wood shop, the introduction of green wood gave the work a particular interest. Students learned why green wood is called green, and enjoyed themselves at the same time. I also tried to suggest to them that knives were not just tools for working wood, or for cutting meat, but are instruments for scientific investigation. Having dissected a salamander last week, one suggested, "You mean like a scalpel?"

But yes, and even more. You really cannot successfully whittle a stick without beginning to formulate rudimentary scientific hypotheses and building the kind of attention necessary for scientific observation, and artistic investigation. With a knife you can cut deep into material reality and create new form at the same time. The knife is an educational tool that empowers minds to observe, to know, and to create.

The following is from N. Christian Jacobsen's book I Sløjdsagen Et Inlæg translated by Barbara Bauer. These words may help to explain why Jacobsen was one of Salomon's favorite authors and the knife one of the favorite tools in Educational Sloyd:
The knife makes large demands on thought and on the hand. The saw can be operated mechanically while the knife requires a freedom, which consists in developing one's own effort. In hand skills in particular the knife holds a position similar to that which the freer forms for the moment hold; its use is also especially suited for the development of the sense of form in right angle and curved forms. What counts with the knife is to be able to freely put it to use through a multitude of hand movements, under which the aimed at form must be brought into clear focus, and the nature of the wood and action of the tools steadily observed. This compels to continual consideration and continual search for the desired form lying in the material before its emergence. All Sloyd work needs to be guided onto this track.
In my woodshop, I've been continuing to make box guitar bodies, and will soon have so many I'll need to quit. In the photos you can see that my Ukulele boxes are dried and holding their shape while two more sides have gone in the forms, and a third form has been crafted.

Below, you'll find my scissor tail guitar design.

Scissor tailed guitar bodies
Do you think this book will be fun and an inspiration to budding guitar makers? I hope so.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the love of learning likewise.

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