Sunday, November 20, 2016

a mystery and a celebration.

I will be at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts today for a book signing, sale and celebration of my 40 years of woodworking in Eureka Springs.

The invitation is included in Friday's blog post. and you are welcome to attend.

In yesterday's mail, I received a gift from Jonas Jensen in Denmark. Jonas writes the very interesting blog, and does many of his interesting woodworking projects while on-board ship. What Jonas sent me is a chisel, the blade of which came from Otto Salomon's sloyd school at Nääs.

A part of the story of this chisel is that Jonas' father travels to Sweden each summer and buys old tools on occasion, some of which he sharpens and sells to make a bit of money to provide the excuse to buy more.

This particular chisel caught Jonas eye when he found the marking NÄÄS shown in the photo above.

The handle is unusual for a Erik Anton Berg chisel, and may either be a replacement handle or possibly one custom made for the school at Nääs. The handle is more robust than is usually required on a firmer chisel.

In any case, I am honored to receive such an appropriate gift... a chisel that has a story attached and that requires further research.

During the latter part of the 20th century, and after the sloyd school had closed, a huge bonfire of educational sloyd models was built and most of the work of former students and teachers was burned. Tools? Who knows where they all ended up. This one has a story to tell, that we may never know. 

Make, fix, create, and extend the likelihood that others learn likewise.


  1. But why the bonfire? Razing seems such a typically Scandinavian way to address something: such as the hardingfele fiddle (and normal fiddles) being burned in the 1800's, and banned in churches until the latter 20th century.

  2. I would guess that those people who burned the models and earlier works did it as some sort of statement.

    Kind of a way of saying that: If this school will not continue, then our work shall not be profaned later on. The models and the work we have made were made solely for the school to use, and therefore it is most fitting to burn it rather than having someone else take advantage of them.

    I think that would be close to my reaction if I had put in a lot of effort for a cause/school, and it was closed for some reason or another.


  3. The reason I would like to have seen more of the collection in tact is that when throwing out so many, only the best examples would be kept. Whereas a few examples of each model might have better illustrated tolerances for such work. Teachers are always inclined to keep examples of their student's best work. Many models that might have been transitional might not have survived. Salomon's library is there and has been cataloged, but I'm not sure the collection of models received the same level of attention. A single piece of carved work could tell stories to a craftsman attuned to the examination of it. So I did not see the burning as having ceremonial significance, but as a historical loss.

  4. I agree that it is a loss, I was just thinking how I would react myself. Rather childish I suppose - but nevertheless I think that is pretty much so.

    How about Hans Thorbjörnson, does he know anything about the background for burning the models?