Sunday, June 30, 2013

beauty on a spreadsheet?

As we've become so focused on the measurement and statistical representations of things, and have begun to seriously ignore those things that cannot be easily measured and quantified, or put into an Xcel spreadsheet, we are putting beauty, our appreciation and understanding of it at risk.

One of the reasons Otto Salomon believed that the sloyd knife was to be a fundamental tool, forming the foundation for the start of a child's learning was that the knife allowed an exploration of form that was difficult to accomplish with chisels and planes and saws that were intended to cut straight lines. Salomon was very fond of quoting the Norwegian Christian Jacobsen from his book I slöidsagen. Et indlaeg (Oslo ,1892) (not an exact translation)
"When using the knife the child is learning to use the muscles of the hand and the forearm with elastic capacity (proficiency?). The child learns to plan in advance the form he is going to bring about. The knife demands total attention and permits no mechanical work. Furthermore the knife can produce – unlike the plane as an example – curved surfaces in form work. This makes the knife superior when it comes to development of sense of form and beauty."
There are some things that we can do to make certain that beauty remains an important part of our lives... teaching all children to be engaged in the search for it can be a start. And if we don't do this one simple thing, we'll become a nation in which power companies put powerlines whereever they want for their own greatest profit regardless of who pays and how. The theft of beauty is a difficult thing to measure and thus beauty is clearly at risk.

Did you know that Americans pay nearly 100 billion dollars a year beautifying their own local out-of-doors experiences? This does not include the value of the time spent luxuriating in gardening or the joy of their visitation. And so it can be assumed that folks do find beauty to be meaningful or they would not spend their hard earned money and time so frivolously. We do take pride in how our homes look, how our yards look, and to ascertain that no high voltage lines run directly through our communities. We pay a great deal of money to live in neighborhoods where we are saved from all that. Beauty does not fit conveniently on an engineer's spreadsheet. Children need to become comfortable managing beauty in their own lives, protecting it and even creating it on their own.

Fortunately for some in my generation, the spirit of Educational Sloyd was still at work when we were kids. Unless we get kids making beautiful and useful things, we can expect matters to become much worse.

Quickly, on another subject, I found a humming bird had flown into the wood shop and could not find its way out. So I turned off the florescent lights and walked over to the closed window where he was trying to get out... I grabbed him in my right hand and carried him to safety out of doors. It is always a thing of beauty and of mystery to interact so closely with such wild things. I've had hummingbirds in my hands before, and 30 years ago held one in each hand that had flown into my wood shop and had become too confused to find their way out.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, June 29, 2013

back to my usual...

Introducing angles can turn a rectilinear box into a surprise
Yesterday was an intense day, watching testimony come in to the Arkansas Public Service Commission docket. The Arkansas Public Service Commission's own engineer found there to be no problems with SWEPCO's request, and his Q and A was rather astounding.
Q.What is the probable economic impact of the Proposed Electrical Facilities?

A.The expected economic impact associated with the construction will be minimal as construction will be by SWEPCO's own or specialized contract employees. A small portion of project wages may find its way into the local economy through purchases such as fuel, food, lodging, and possibly construction materials.
He made no other reference to economic impact beyond the fact that it will raise rates $.51 per thousand kilowatt hours. In other words, we'll probably be OK here because maybe we can sell them some gas. I am personally astounded that SWEPCO and the APSC offer no recognition of the value of beauty in our lives. Homeowners on average spend $440.00 per year on lawn and garden supplies. Landscaping is a 71 billion dollar industry with nearly 400,000 businesses and almost 1 million employees. The loss of outdoor beauty in the Ozarks is a matter of very serious economic concern, and to lose our beauty means the direct loss of tourism, our number one industry, and the arts, our number two. And yet the APSC engineer sees only minimal economic impact of their unnecessary new powerline.

Just in case you are here reading for the first time, I should add that the poles are 150 ft. tall, well over twice the height of our tallest oaks and the right of way, kept sterile of natural forest growth in perpetuity by the application of toxic herbicides would destroy my back yard and traipse across important tourist sites and important scenic viewsheds all across Carroll County.

When artist Louis Freund was trying to get citizens of Eureka Springs to agree to the formation of an historic district and to allow our entire city to be placed on the historic register, he told folks that while Colonial Williamsburg was spending millions of dollars to recreate what had been lost, Eureka Springs was the real thing, and all we had to do was protect it. When it comes to the beauty of the Ozark mountains, it's the real deal and all we have to do is protect it.

Beauty has tangible economic value. The beauty of the Ozarks is worth 5.7 billion dollars a year in tourism. The beauty of Eureka Springs is a tangible asset that brings millions of tourist dollars into the city each year. That of course is the reason the city pays for a full time gardener, Don E. whose job it is to make certain each of our city parks is gorgeous. (and they are!) It may not be a thing that some engineers can understand. It seems that engineering, while it was once a hands-on activity, has become something else. For some, it's about money and calculations in which the things most important to the rest of us just don't  add up.
It's ironic that these days even engineers can suffer from finger blindness as described by Matti Bergström and be "values damaged" in that they see little to be of much importance beyond their own desire for money and power. There are real things of value about values that come with making something beautiful and useful in one's own hands, and all children should have that kind of learning before they grow up to positions of power and screw things up for the rest of us.

 In my wood shop, I'm finishing boxes for a chapter in the new book, exploring "effective surprise." The design of each and every box we make offers the opportunity to surprise.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, June 28, 2013

forgive me if I'm distracted...

Today is the day that our legal case against the SWEPCO 345 kV powerline expansion that would literally destroy my small acreage and shatter the sanctuary of my home and wood shop. So I am naturally distracted. I've finished my own testimony for submission by the attorney, and I'm awaiting further instructions. You can actually observe changes in the case docket as testimony is submitted through this link to the APSC files online. Scroll to the bottom of that page to see most recently submitted testimony. I'll be checking this during the day, as this is really a David vs. Goliath event.

I have a letter in local paper this week and an editorial in another, both questioning the need for the project, and questioning SWEPCO's motives. They claim the project is to serve us and provide greater reliability to our county, by making sure we have 500% of the power we currently use. You can read my letter and editorial and here and here, So in other words, between writing testimony, and submitting letters to the editor, I've been writing up a storm.

Yesterday I did take a few minutes to work on drawers for jewelry boxes, as I'm making an attempt to get back to the boxes I'm making for my new book. My objective is to have two more chapters ready for submission in the next two weeks... not a daunting chore since most of the photos have already been taken. My own small jewelry box drawers are made using a simple mortise and tenon technique that is efficient and effective. An example is shown above, but what can't be seen in the photo are small mortise and tenon joints connecting the parts. The drawer guides routed into the maple sides give the drawer lasting use without showing wear to either the drawer or the carcass of the box.

My testimony, posted today before the APSC can be found here.
In the wood shop, I've been assembling drawers and giving some additional shape to a sliding top box.

Make, fix and create...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

draft testimony

This is long and not my usual. It regards the efforts to run a major 345 kV powerline through our community and may explain why I don't have anything specific to say today about hands-on learning.

Q & A Draft testimony for Doug Stowe

Q. Please state your name title and place of residence? My name is Doug Stowe, or to be more formal, Douglas R. Stowe, Jr. I live at 412 Sandrock Road, just outside the city limits of Eureka Springs, 72632

Q. How long you have lived in Eureka Springs? Since the fall of 1975, almost 38 years

Q. What are your experience and qualifications regarding the arts? I have attached my resume at the close of this testimony.

I moved to Eureka Springs as a studio potter and soon thereafter adopted woodworking as my primary art form. I became friends with many of the great predecessors in the arts here, including Tommy Thomas, Louis and Elsie Freund, Ely De Vescovi, Glen Gant, and many more. I found myself part of a growing arts community that had roots going back into the 19th century. I’ve kept active in the arts by participating in local craft shows and serving on the Eureka Springs Arts Council.

 In 1976 I was one of the founders of the Eureka Springs Guild of Artists and Craftspeople and was the organization’s first president. I served again as president in the late 1990’s during the time in which the organization was brought to a close and we used its remaining resources to form the Eureka Springs School of the Arts, ESSA, which was formally organized in 1998.

As a self-employed woodworker I spent years developing my skills and marketing my work and at one time had 30 galleries selling it throughout the US. I was one of dozens of Eureka Springs professional artists producing works for a regional and national market. In 1995 I began writing for publication in woodworking magazines, and began writing books for the woodworking market. Between then and now, I’ve completed seven books, 3 DVDs and published over 60 articles in woodworking magazines in the US and the UK. I am currently working on my 8th book.

During the fall, winter and spring months, I teach woodworking grades 1-12 in an independent school. My program, Wisdom of the Hands is one I started in 2001 to integrate woodworking as an activity to promote hands-on learning in all subject areas. With regard to that I often lecture for educational conferences related to hands-on learning and the arts, and have presented at two international conferences for arts education. During the summer months and on occasional weekends, I teach adult woodworking at various craft schools, and for woodworking clubs throughout the US. In addition, my work is sold through 4 galleries in Arkansas including the Crystal Bridges Museum Gift Store, and the Historic Arkansas Museum and is also sold at Appalachian Spring Galleries in Washington, DC.

I serve on the Board of the aforementioned Eureka Springs School of the Arts and was one of three founding board members. In 2009 I was named an Arkansas Living Treasure by the Arkansas Department of Heritage and Arkansas Arts Council for my involvement in woodworking and the advancement of crafts.

Q. Why did you choose Eureka Springs as a place to live? I moved To Eureka Springs in 1975 drawn by the scenic beauty, the abundant hardwoods, the pristine ecosystem, the quaint galleries, and the wonderful outdoor recreation opportunities this place offers. The town was like no other place I’d visited in my life. I soon discovered Eureka Springs to be a place in which artists and craftsmen were encouraged in their work by a strong network of elders and peers.

Q. How is the natural beauty of the area affecting you in your work as an artist? As a woodworker, much of the inspiration for my work is drawn from the forests that surround my home, and that serve as a buffer toward the harsher realities of modern life. My wife and I live on 11 acres that we regard as land held in preserve and in trust for future generations. I work almost exclusively with woods from Arkansas, as woodworking with beautiful woods is a way I can make known the beauty and value of our native species. I sign the boxes and furniture that I make, not only with my name, but also with the names of the species that have been used, as I regard the woods as being given voice in the creative process through my work and careful craftsmanship.

I can clearly remember the day friends helped me move into my current home and wood shop. As we stepped out of our trucks carrying my tools and equipment I heard the cry of two hawks circling overhead. We all looked up and watched having received such a strong confirmation that I had arrived with my tools and my work to just the right place.

My office and wood shop windows look out on the forest that would be destroyed if SWEPCO and the Arkansas Public Service Commission were to choose route 91, and I can hardly express the turmoil that prospect would cause to my creative life. Each of the windows in my shop and finish room are arranged so that when I look up from my work, I look to the forest inspiration upon which my work depends.

I know that artists can work under the worst of circumstances, and will find ways to proceed with their translations of physical and cultural realities despite what other folks choose to do to the natural environment. But artists serve as canaries in a coal mine. We tend to be more sensitive and more quickly disturbed when massive disruptions take place in the visual realm. Folks come to Eureka Springs in part because they hope to find something more than concrete and power lines. And those of us who’ve come to love this place, take very seriously our responsibility to preserve it for others to enjoy long after we’re gone.

We were not the first to feel this way about this place. Louis Freund was an early friend of mine here in Eureka Springs. He and his wife Elsie purchased the old Carrie Nations home and founded the first Eureka Springs Summer School of the Arts. Louis was also the tireless driving force for our entire city of Eureka Springs being put on the national Historic register and his work as a social activist led to the founding of our historic district, protecting the architectural integrity and beauty of Eureka Springs. Elsie Freund and I worked with the Guild of Artists and Craftspeople education committee planning programs to enhance learning opportunities for local artists.

Q. Do you know other artists who choose to live and work in Eureka Springs because of its natural beauty? I can give a long list of artists I know personally and each can tell the same thing. Beauty of the natural environment is the first hook connecting us to Eureka Springs. First, and as I mentioned, Louis Freund was well known as an advocate for the protection of our city’s visual resources. His friend, famous Arkansas writer, John Gould Fletcher, had written to him in the 1940s, “not much happening in Eureka, but it sure is laid out pretty.”

Even before that, when the city was founded, spring preservations were established to protect our city’s springs in perpetuity, considering the quality of water, but also the protection of their scenic beauty. Nearly every day of the spring and summer visitors will find artists set up with easels and watercolors, sketching the beauty of this place. Plein Air painting where students and professionals join in outdoor painting exercises is one of the favorite activities at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts.

Q. What types of artists or art institutions and establishments are present in Eureka Springs and surrounding areas? In addition to the Eureka Springs School of the Arts, our neighboring community of Holiday Island has an art guild, painting competitions and an active group of amateur and semi-professional artists. In the City of Eureka Springs, we celebrate May Fine Arts Month and have an active Eureka Springs Arts Council with participation of the Mayor, city government, the chamber of commerce and tourist promotion commission in addition to an appointed group of active professional artists and gallery owners. We have dozens of galleries, and gift stores specializing in the arts, some of which specialize in locally produced work. In 1998, following years of planning by the Eureka Springs Guild of Artists and Craftspeople, two friends and I founded the Eureka Springs School of the Arts to offer weeklong classes to adults and children in various forms of artistic expression.

The location of the school near Inspiration Point in Eureka Springs was chosen because of its beautiful setting. The school is between two of the proposed routes. These routes may or may not be visible from school, but they will impact the overall impression as one arrives on campus. The school currently serves about 250 part time students annually, 58% of whom come from outside the local area. We recently purchased 60 adjoining acres for expansion and have new studios under construction.

The president of our ESSA board noted the following in regard to SWEPCO’s plan: “The proposed routes by SWEPCO would also adversely affect part of a beautiful horizon that draws millions of tourists to Eureka Springs and the surrounding area. Such a landscape-altering project would have a distressing effect on the regional economy and our School’s viability. Tourists, some of whom are our students, generate vital revenue that allows the School to be able to serve the public. "
In November 2011, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened in Bentonville, AR, founded by Alice Walton, heir to the founder of Walmart. It is a several billion dollar venture and has from the outset sought a relationship with Eureka Springs as its partner in regional promotion of the arts in Northwest Arkansas. I was personally involved early at the start of the museum’s construction following a conversation with Alice Walton when we were introduced at a local arts and craft fair. She asked me to serve as a consultant in the processing and use of the timber harvested from the site. I helped the museum director in that task and was invited to make a bench for the museum from walnut that is on display in the administrative office of the museum.

In September of 2012, I was asked to make boxes for the first year staff from woods harvested from the museum site. When those 300+ boxes were completed, Alice Walton asked me to make another 500 boxes for the first year volunteers. All of the artists in Eureka Springs are excited about the promising future of the arts in the region that the presence of this major museum offers, and most particularly about potential collaboration with the museum on projects of importance to the arts. If anything, the presence of this new museum will increase, rather than decrease, the economic importance of the arts for Eureka Springs.

Q. What is the economic importance of the arts for this area? Zeek Taylor who manages the Eureka Springs Artist Registry* estimates the number of visual artists at over 200, which is almost 10 percent of the city’s population, and the number doesn’t include other types of artists.

Eureka Springs ranks number 8 in the 2012 American Style survey of the Top 25 Arts Destinations (small city category, under 100,000) Eureka Springs whose population hovers around 2,000 is one of the smallest cities on the list.**

With the arts, outdoor recreation and the scenic beauty of the area to draw tourists, Richard Davies of Arkansas Parks and Recreation Commission reports Eureka Springs as one of the most important players in a 5.7 billion dollar statewide tourist industry.

There are two primary industries in Eureka Springs, the arts, and tourism, and if you’ve read any studies you know that arts and tourism are deeply entwined. The West Virginia Craft Study *** 2003, explaining the economic impact of craft noted the following: “There is also a very strong linkage between crafts and tourism. Recent studies indicated that thousands of individuals come to craft communities or destinations each year. This includes artists, instructors, students, collectors and craft enthusiasts as well as traditional tourists. The constituents of each group contribute to the local economy in a variety of ways from the local purchase of arts, crafts and supplies to the purchase of retail items, gasoline, groceries, food and lodging. It appears that crafts can be a major travel attraction that generates tourism and overall economic development.”

In addition to the arts and crafts sold through local galleries many of the artists are involved in regional and national sales through travel to craft shows. They bring money home to spend in the local economy. A typical artist may make as little as 10-15 % in local sales with the balance of his or her income derived from out of area sales, wholesale sales to galleries, direct to customers , through craft show sales or over the internet. The arts culture of Eureka Springs draws new artists each year, and for every new artist, there seem to be more who want to move here. I don’t have statistics on this phenomenon. People inclined to participate in the arts recognize the beauty of the area and are inspired to move here to become more deeply involved in the arts. And this is a thing that I’ve been able to observe during my 38 years as a participant in the artist community of Eureka Springs.

Q. How would your work as an artist, and the work of other artists in this area, be affected by the construction of the powerline? The clear-cut right of way would be within 75 feet of the deck at the back of my home. A 150 foot tall pole would tower almost directly overhead. Presently a forest buffer exists between my home and the noises from Spring Street in Eureka Springs. That buffer would be gone. In the summer, leaves on the trees isolate us visually and acoustically from town. The power line would remove all that and replace it with a hostile environment kept perpetually sterile of normal forest growth. Instead of the wind rustling through leaves, we would hear the hum of wind over wire and possibly worse.

At the present time, I live and work in a state of sanctuary… That sanctuary would be lost and never come back. Artists throughout Carroll County who live within view of one or more proposed routes face the same threat, the same potential loss. We are a close-knit community of artists who care deeply for each other. The losses sustained by one, affects others and we have a long-standing tradition of charitable art auctions used to help those in need and to raise money for worthy projects and for each other. We have a well established sense of obligation and responsibility to stand up for each other in times of personal crisis. With this powerline proposal, I have never known a pending crisis to be more widespread.

As an author and well-known woodworking teacher, I frequently have visitors wanting to visit my shop and to purchase some of my work or some of my books and see where I live and work. I’ve had busloads of visitors from the Arkansas Art Musuem, the Oakland (CA) Art Musuem, and the Los Angeles Folk Art Museum. Visitors always comment on the beauty of this place. That beauty would be gone.

The simple mechanism is this: Artists choose to live and work here because they are attracted by the natural beauty. They’ve formed a thriving art community that spurs creativity, attracts other artists to move and work here. The arts are the bedrock of our community. And the visual beauty of this place is the foundation for the arts. It’s why we gathered here in the first place. For SWEPCO to take our visual landscape so lightly is a sacrilege and a shame that the artists of Eureka Springs would not forgive. The danger that SWEPCO poses to our economy is not just a loss of tourism, but also a loss of artists and the arts.

Q. Have you read the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) for this powerline project? Yes.

Q. Did the EIS address possible impacts on the artist community of Eureka Springs and their livelihood? No. Not at all.

Q. In your opinion, did the EIS adequately describe and analyze, the impact of the powerline on the artist community and its economic impact on the region? It did not. By failing to address the arts, it failed to address the vital economic concerns of this community.




Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

waiting for oil to dry...

When applying an oil finish, you really don't want to wait around for a long time for it to dry without taking time to rub it out... drying places where there may be too much oil, and distributing that excess to an even luster throughout the surface of the box.

So I am always careful to not leave things unattended for long.

This morning I went to the post office and I was glad that I'd done the wipe down on boxes first. Waiting for me at the post office was a new Hamilton Marking Gauge. Jeff Hamilton knows the value of effective surprise. The gauge came packaged in old-time excelsior, and in a sewn cloth pouch for safe keeping.

I've had a Hamilton marking gauge for years, and when I was at Marc Adams School earlier in the month, I was impressed seeing all the Hamilton marking gauges in use in Marc's joinery class. Marc recommends  them and Jeff has taken them to the cutting edge. He also has a larger version, but I like the delicacy of his first. You can see that it's a small tool, but one that does the job, even in large hands.

They've become objects of both beauty and practicality, that can be bought for less money than it would cost to take your wife out to dinner and drinks at a modest restaurant.  It will last nearly forever.

My first that I've used for years is currently on loan to my apprentice and is made from cherry.  I chose my new one to be made from walnut.

A second reason to rub out an oil finish before going to the post office is that a copy of Wooden Boat might arrive and will most certainly distract you from what you'd been doing.  It is the best magazine for advocacy of hands-on learning, hands-down.  It features programs in which kids learn all kinds of wonderful things hands-on by being involved in the making and sailing of wooden boats. In addition, if you are a wood worker, you will find the basics of  hand-tool work covered and you'll find yourself becoming a better and more knowledgeable woodworker because you are a reader of Wooden Boat.

Yesterday I got a phone call from a friend who had applied numerous coats of Minwax antique oil as well as another product to a door and it was still sticky after a few days. She wanted to know if it would ever fully dry. Those are the kinds of questions that it's best to ask the manufacturer. They put 800 numbers on the can in the hopes they can help solve problems and do a better job of meeting customer needs. Most often problems like hers come from failure to follow the directions on the can, and it is not always the best idea to mix products. Some have drying agents to make them dry more quickly and some do not. And to mix two products from different manufacturers is almost always an invitation to a great deal more messing around than you intended.

In any case, you learn in time what works for you and what won't. It's the value of actual experience.

Make, fix and create...

Monday, June 24, 2013

the law...

Simple marking can turn a box from plain to greater interest.
I've told this before. When I was in college, I intended to study law. My grandfather was a lawyer and judge. My great-grandfather was also a lawyer. My folks thought I was smart enough to be a lawyer, and so it was assumed as I went off to college, it was to become one. I studied political science as preparation for law school.  With nothing against lawyers, many of whom I deeply respect, I came to my senses.

As I was restoring an antique Ford during the summer following my freshman year, the craftsman guiding my work told me he didn't understand why I would be studying to become a lawyer,  as it was obvious to him that my brains were in my hands. Those words made me think. In time they led me to reconsider my plans and allowed me to conceptualize becoming a craftsman and ultimately led to what you see here in this blog... an exploration of how the hands and mind are integrated in the process of learning.

These days, I am involved deeply with the law as I work with Save The Ozarks  and help to prepare a legal case for the protection of my property and to prevent a 345 kV power line from traversing destructively through our tourist economy. Can I tell you now that becoming a craftsman was the very best decision I could have possibly made in my life?

As I work with the attorney, and with expert witnesses, and as I explain our case through newspaper articles and interviews with the press, I know that I could have been a good attorney. But I can tell you that the hands have the power of doing so much more than the mind alone. Einstein said that his pencil and he were smarter than he. A man with tools and materials has greater power and range of understanding than a man equipped with words and phrases alone. And when I get bored with the law, or I am in need of rejuvenation, a few minutes engaged in the luscious reality of making beautiful and useful things fills the bill.

Unless we are able to get an extension, all legal arguments must be made by this Friday, June 28, so if I'm less attentive to the blog than usual, that is my excuse.The walnut box in the photo above was one made in a class as a demonstration box. It was so plain and boring that I went after it with my angle grinder. Now that  it's more interesting, I may be able to sell it.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mitered Finger Joint Sled...

I got a request from one of my students for further explanation on how to make a mitered finger joint sled. As it was something I'd never made before in my life, and have never  known to have been made by anyone else, I've done a sketch of it in hopes that a few can understand. It seems to be an invention of my own. I've also proposed an article for Fine Woodworking to allow me a better opportunity to explain its use. You can gain some insight into its use from P. 62 of my book Complete Illustrated Guide to Box Making where the joint is cut using a miter gauge on the table saw.

This sled has a single runner so it can be used serially on the left and right miter gauge guide slots, with the blade cutting on one side to cut one corner and the other to cut its mate. The adjustable stop is also used alternately on one side and then the other, and is held in place with a "c" clamp. the fences are attached at 45 degree angles with screws and it is essential that space be left between them to allow for positioning the adjustable stop.

If you don't understand this process, that's understandable. A mitered finger joint is a rather complex box making technique. You will want to start with simple joints and work your way toward greater complexity over time, which happens to correspond with one of the simple rules of Educational Sloyd. Move from the simple to the complex. It is relatively simple to understand a box joint. It is relatively simple to understand a miter. You will want to have both mastered before you proceed to more complex joints involving both joinery techniques in the same corner of a box.

Make, fix and create.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

My apprentice...

As some of my readers may know I've had an apprentice for the last 6 months through the Folklife program at Arkansas State University. In retrospect our apprenticeship went by in a flash. It was like when you're in the shop late at night so deeply engrossed in what you are doing that time stands still and becomes irrelevant.

While our apprenticeship arrangement has come to a formal conclusion, Greg and I have decided to continue, and that it carry on for more learning and fun. We've become even better friends through the apprenticeship and enjoy our relationship.

Greg began by making small benches based on a model shown in Fine Woodworking using hand tools. Then I asked him to begin making dovetailed joints. My reasoning was that if you can get over what many woodworkers assume to be the hardest of the work, you can do anything. Greg has actually built a large body of work which you can see on his facebook page, Sticks and Stones.

I am proud of Greg's accomplishments. With some added time in practice at the bench, and with a few new tools to bolster his growing shop, he will go far. If you are on facebook, visit Greg's page and offer your encouragement. It is truly a marvelous thing to offer a bit of what you know how to do and then to see what you have offered carried on in another person's hands.

I thank Mike Luster, the Arkansas State University and the National Endowment for the Arts for launching Greg's apprenticeship. It has been rewarding for both of us.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, June 21, 2013

teaching as discovery...

Lift out tray with center divider.
The word is heuristic. Teaching is too often considered to be a one way street in which someone in the know presents information to those who don't know. And yet, teaching and learning at their best involve engagement with the unknown by both teacher and learner.

At my box interiors class at Marc Adams, I wanted the class to become student led to some degree, which meant that I needed student involvement in the development of lessons as they emerged. So in making trays, I asked for their help in directing me to make the kind of tray they thought would be useful in their own work. Half the class wanted a sliding tray. The other half wanted another design. So we made both, even though a lift out tray as shown is one I'd never made before in my life.

Making this simple tray required me to engage heuristically in the process of teaching. Part of the value of this open ended approach is that it demonstrates a self-directed model for learning. Students will at some point, leave the tutelage of an instructor and be on their own to confidently engage in personal discovery. That will certainly involve trial and error. It may involve failure and will most certainly involve risk. Participating with a teacher who demonstrates this relationship with both failure and risk may be the most important experience that can be offered to students in a class. For both teacher and student it involves a step into the unknown. Heuristics require there to be an unknown in order for discovery to take place. Incidentally, this is related to a principle in Educational Sloyd, "Move from the known to the unknown." And that's not just a principle for the student, but for the teacher as well.

The photos at left and below show how the tray worked out in the finished box. For the teacher, engaging in discovery may involve feelings of loss of control and vulnerability. He or she may feel unprepared, all the while offering necessary insight into learning itself.

Make, fix and create...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Boxes and Anaxagoras...

Besides noting that man is the wisest of all animals because he has hands, Anaxagoras was the first Greek philosopher to note the existence of mind. This graphic presentation is intended to illustrate Anaxagoras view of mind. My thanks to Julie Fox for her illustrative lecture notes, found on Google images. Click on it to view it at a larger size.

As Mario notes in a comment to yesterday's post, the hands and mind are a partnership and each suffers from the lack of full and total engagement of the other.
"As a not quite lifelong craftsman, but just at it for quite a few years, I agree with your view of learning and teaching. But let me add another idea. The same skill that allows me to pack for a two-week trip in a fairly small suitcase, or which lets me pack all my instruments in the trunk of my car is a part of what we do. I've heard it described as "spatial perception." In other words, visualizing the final product, whether it's a box or a table or a packed suitcase. It's obviously work of the mind, but formed by experience with the hands."
And there you have it. Mind and Hand. One without the other culminates in stupidity.

 I received images from one of my students in the MASW class on box making which I taught in May. Tom Sharp had planned to use what he learned to make a wine presentation box, the first of which is shown at left.  The cut out design on front forms the initials of the person for whom the box was made as a gift.  I hope more students will share photos of their finished work. Tom wanted me to know that he was listening in class. The hand plane shavings protect the bottle, fill the space around it, and create an effective surprise. Can you imagine opening a box and being rewarded with both a bottle of wine, and the scent of pine?

Nicely done!

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

getting back to it...

I got in a full day in the shop yesterday, but am still struggling a bit to get into the full swing of things. Anyone who has been self-employed in such a small business as my own can tell of the many hats which must be worn. I am both labor and management, and that means that if something needs to be done, I'm the man for it. And if I don't do it, it won't be done, and the business will suffer for my lack of attention.

I'm trying to get some boxes finished to distribute to my few local galleries that handle my work, and to fill an order for Appalachian Spring in Washington, DC.

I was intrigued by Arthur Levine's quote in yesterday's Washington Post, that universities are confused as to whether to treat teaching as a profession or as a craft, with one requiring "lots of education" and the other training and practice. If anyone were to be willing to understand learning from the vantage point offered by the hands, he or she would know that to learn anything of real substance requires both.

And so as a lifelong craftsman, one who has invested heavily in the training of my own hands and mind in the production of beautiful and useful objects, I think I have an interesting perspective that might be of service to educators if they were to burrow their way past the egotism of their entrenched positions. The schism forged as a sharp knife dividing the hands from the mind in the education of our kids is stabbing away at every effort to raise education to its highest standard.

Without the hands to test the propositions of mind, it is an empty vessel of meaningless proportions. Without the mind to cultivate the actions of the hands, they flail away at fruitless and destructive acts. When the mind and hands learn and act as expressions of our full humanity, human culture is on the rise. Forget the hands, we flail and fall. Separate the education of the mind from the testing and training of the hands and we've become stupid. As Anaxagoras had said in the 5th century B.C. "Man is the wisest of all animals because he has hands." In the image above, Anaxagoras holds the world in one hand and points with the other.

Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

failure of universities to educate teachers...

From the Washington Post:
"The vast majority of the 1,430 education programs that prepare the nation’s K-12 teachers are mediocre, according to a first-ever ranking that immediately touched off a firestorm."
Firestorm or not, this is a discussion we must have, whether universities like it or not
"While debate swirls about the validity of the ratings of individual schools, there is broad agreement among educators and public officials — from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to governors to unions — that the country is failing to adequately train the 200,000 people who become teachers each year.

“We don’t know how to prepare teachers,” said Arthur Levine, former president of Teachers College at Columbia University and author of a scathing critique of teacher preparation. “We can’t decide whether it’s a craft or a profession. Do you need a lot of education as you would in a profession, or do you need a little bit and then learn on the job, like a craft? I don’t know of any other profession that’s so uncertain about how to educate their professionals.”
My point in all this comes from Educational Sloyd. "Move from the concrete to the abstract. " Teachers need to be educated like professionals, but they also need to be developed as one would craftsmen and artists. You are better equipped to understand theory when you can see it applied through your own hands. Unfortunately, folks are not talking about the role of the hands in learning. Many parents of home-schooled students are doing a much better job of teaching than many university trained teachers perhaps due to one reason alone. Children do best when someone really cares personally about their educational success.

By the time we've stripped teachers of their earlier roles as intelligent, trusted mentors, diagnosticians and planners of their children's educational success and put those things into the hands of specialized off-site curriculum planners and standardized test administrators, we've reduced their humanity. Both teaching and learning are best accomplished hands-on.

Today in the wood shop, I'm finishing some small details on my demonstration boxes. I textured a lid. I installed miter keys. I've done a bit of sanding, and now I'm ready to begin installing hinges.

Make, fix and create...

Monday, June 17, 2013

catching up...

 Just like my students, I have some boxes to finish now that I've arrived home. I have 4 demonstration boxes from one class and another 5 to finish from the other, and because I had flown home between classes, I was able to bring all home Sunday in the truck. Just as my students have become more prolific in class, I have, too.

I still have miter keys to add to one box and will add a top panel and plywood bottom to another. Four boxes will need hinges. When they are completed some will be kept as demonstration boxes. Some will be given as gifts, and some will be sold.

As is always the case, my students at MASW were interested in how to sell boxes. Some would like to supplement their incomes by selling their work. Some are just curious how a craftsman can assign a value to his or her work. There are no easy ways to sell, and it is extremely difficult to determine what a box is worth. It is certainly easier to make boxes than to figure out how to make a living from their sale, and one of my students reminded the class of what Shaker box maker Jon Wilson had said many years ago. When asked whether a person can make a living making boxes, he responded, "Yes, but you better figure out some other way to have fun."
In my case, I am very lucky. I have fun making boxes. I have fun teaching box making, and I have fun writing about making boxes.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, June 16, 2013


I am home in Arkansas now after 6 days of teaching box making at Marc Adams School. It was a great 6 days spent with avid box making enthusiasts. We all learned. I invented a couple new sleds. (Not that there can be anything truly new about a sled.) One is specifically for making making mitered box joints, and the other is for making angled cross-cuts on the table saw. Both were extremely easy to make.

At the end of the 5 day class, my students had a number of boxes to illustrate what they'd learned, and I have been asked to return next year for another class. This year, my class filled during the first week of enrollment. Students from other classes kept telling me during the week that they plan to take the class next year or at least some time in the future. so, If you are interested in taking my box making class at Marc's school, please get on their mailing list and register as soon as you are allowed.

The photo above shows my happy class with some of the boxes we made during the week! Now that I'm home, I have orders to catch up on, chapters to work on, and so much to do, but it is absolutely lovely working in my own shop.

On my last morning in Indiana, I stopped to take photos of a 345 kV power line to get a better grasp of the scale of the one that SWEPCo has proposed to run 75 feet from my deck. You can gauge the scale by looking at the height of more normal power lines, buildings and cars.

In cities, folks like those in the suburbs of Indianapolis have become used to having power lines of massive scale running through neighborhoods, but here in Northwest Arkansas, where many artists and other folks have moved to share in our scenic beauty, to propose such things is wantonly destructive. I've been attempting to suggest to folks that scenic beauty and inspiration for the arts work hand in hand toward the betterment of human culture and economy. My most recent letters to the editor on this subject can be found here.

If SWEPCo and the Arkansas Public Service Commission were allowed to go through with their plans and if the route through my back yard was chosen by the Arkansas Public Service Commission, I would lose a 150 foot wide swath of forest and have one of these ugly poles located about 150 feet from my deck.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, June 14, 2013

box making, day 5...

We finished our 5th day of box making, and all the students seemed pleased with their progress and complimentary, for what they'd learned and what they'd been presented.

Tomorrow I have a one day  class on interior architecture for small boxes. It is a class I only teach every other year, so  I am actually a bit more nervous about this class than I was about the full week long class. I hope I have enough information about the insides of boxes to make it worthwhile for my students who've stayed for an extra day.

By tomorrow afternoon, I will be on the road home, celebrating the completion of this year's box making at Marc Adams School.

I want to touch upon how we learn. Is there a difference between how children learn and how adults learn? The only difference I see is that children are forced to comply with the learning of specific things, and adults really prefer, and insist upon learning the things that directly interest them. We have this absurd fear that children will not learn the things that we think are important to us, unless we force them to learn through the things that we are required to teach. Can anyone else see the stupidity of that?

Left to their own devices, children and adults learn best through play. I meant to write down the principles of Educational Sloyd on the blackboard for my parting thought to my students. Perhaps a few will be reading this... Though I was too busy to remind them.

  • Start with the interests of the child.
  • Move from the known to the unknown.
  • Move from the easy to the more difficult.
  • Move from the simple to the complex.
  • Move from the concrete to the abstract, remembering always to test what you've learned under concrete circumstances.

Make, fix and  create...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Day four of box making

We've finished our 4th day of box making at Marc Adams School. The students are each working on more than one box and some have more than a dozen in the works. I've not had a class more prolific than this one.

I too, have been making boxes, and some of mine are turning out nice. I stopped for carry-out Chinese dinner, and my fortune read, "Express yourself, do something creative." No worries about that. My class and I have been creating boxes all day, from 7:30 AM. Both yesterday and today I made new sleds of new designs to cut mitered finger joints and for cutting stock at interesting angles. So the creativity is not just in box making but also in making new jigs and fixtures for box making.

Make, fix and  create...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

3rd. day of box making...

Today we began installing hinges, cutting lids from bases of boxes, installing miter keys and more. I made wooden hinges, demonstrated using a hidden spline mitered joint, and I helped students with design questions. We are making great progress. Our strategy for this class is learning through play. Just as children learn best through play, adults do too. There are times when we get in over our heads. In our excitement for learning, we make minor mistakes.

I designed this class to minimize the amount of time students spend standing in line. I want it to be like the indoor playground at St. Mary's school. If there is a line on the slide, head for the monkey bars. If there is a line there, too, head for the merry-go-round.  If the table saw for cutting miter joints is busy, make box joints. If both are busy, cut up and prepare materials for your next box. This strategy is working and you can see it  in action. At any given time, nearly all the tools in the shop are in use, while other students are planning their next moves at their workbenches in the next room. At each work bench you'll find boxes in various stages of assembly.

Students from other classes are telling me, I want to take your class next year.

I am also learning about how to express and share information so it is most easily understood. And so, I keep becoming a better teacher as I share what I learn.

Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Marc Adams box making, day two

This was my second day of box making class and we made great progress. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the connection to allow my camera to load photos to the computer and you'll just have to take my word for it.

Students today learned how to make floating panel lids, and how to install bottoms in finger jointed boxes. We began installing contrasting keys in mitered boxes, and I demonstrated how to cut a lid from the base. Students have begun doing their own expressive work in no time. I know that this would be more meaningful to my readers if you saw photos. Sorry about that. In the meantime, I am excited to be here.

Hollow form by Alan Lacer
My friend Alan Lacer is also teaching this week, and it is nice to have an opportunity to reconnect with a friend with great skill and great humor. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all folks knew the value of hands-on learning? Here at Marc Adams School of Woodworking I am with those who really share my own values.

Oh, the inconvenience of having bodies! A friend was called in to visit her son's first grade teacher. He kept squirming and falling out of his chair. It was an interruption for her important lessons as she tried to get all the children to sit still.

It seems the negligence of the body, and most particularly the negligence of the hands is the source of stupidity in American education. Anaxagoras had said that man is the wisest of all animals because he has hands and it is most perfectly clear to me, that wisdom is lost when hands and minds are forcefully deprived of the balancing that each brings to the other.

 Make, fix and create...

Monday, June 10, 2013

and why not?

Today was my first day of round two of box making at the Marc Adams School of woodworking and I was too busy teaching to have taken any photos. I'll do better tomorrow.

In1888, Felix Adler addressed the National Conference of Charities and Correction in Buffalo, New York and described the relationship between manual arts and the development of productive will in children, particularly as it applied to the delinquent child. He noted:
"... history, geography, and arithmetic are not, as a rule, interesting to young children, especially not to young children of the class with which we are now dealing. These listless mind are not easily roused to an interest in abstractions. Secondly, it is a notorious fact that intellectual culture, pure and smile, is quite consisted with weakness of the will. A person may have very high intellectual attainments, and yet be morally deficient. I need hardly warn my reflective hearers that, when emphasized in the importance of the will of intellectual culture, I had in mind the intellectual process as applied to acts. To cultivate the intellect in its own sphere of contemplation and abstraction, apart from action, may leave the will precisely as feeble as it was before."
Any questions about this? You have doubts? Take a look at American politics. It can serve as an example of what happens when folks get out of touch. Is there actual truth in what these folks do and say? It is important that we train children in doing real things, that allow them to self-assess and take responsibility for their own growth. Make, fix and create...

this does concern box making...

I've awakened early and will go back to bed soon. Believe it or not, this does concern box making, for if a child (or an adult) can make a wooden box in which the corners are square, the lid fits, it serves a distinct purpose, it can achieve a purposeful standard of aesthetics, and expresses a growth within the student who made it, there is a truthfulness to it that can hardly be matched in other learning. When learning is purposefully divorced from responsive and responsible action to express learning, and is only measured in abstract means outside the child's own ability to assess success , can it be said that real learning has taken place?

One of the books I brought with me for inspiration is Felix Adler's Moral Instruction of Children, about which I've written earlier posts, including this one that does have to do with box making.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, June 09, 2013

More box making...

I leave today for another class at Marc Adams School. As I have little time to spend on the blog, I'll send you off to an earlier post that briefly explores Educational Sloyd put into modern understanding.

Intuition and tact briefly explores the relationship between allowing teachers some latittude in the development of curriculum and establishing the learning relationship between student and material and offers a quote from Leonard Waks. The quote is from this material which I post again here just to keep a direct link that might be useful to me at a later date. Dr. Waks maintains a blog, Social Issues, that explores social justice in relation to education. Among articles that can be found on Dr. Wak's blog, is one on the school to prison pipeline.

At one time, offering industrial arts was intended in part to offer something to kids who were not going to college. Then they (the powers that be) decided all kids should go to college. They cut the legs out of programs that were the only thing keeping many kids in school. Can you see the stupidity of this? The truth is that all kids learn best when their hands are engaged in learning. But except for the few of us. This is not a discussion taking place in American education. After all, what could academicians possibly learn from the manual arts? They've been taught that they are too important for that. For too many of them ego would stand in the way of real learning.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, June 08, 2013

maker's double helix...

double helix of design and technique
This is my image of how a craftsman grows through an exploration of design and technique. As you can see, it's like a double helix pattern with connecting bars. So when I ask my students to explore a simple box and begin naming its qualities, including those of design and technique, they are actually beginning to describe their own growth as box makers. Click on the image to view it in a larger size. Points along the spiral paths correspond with particular techniques and design competence moving in the direction of finer craftsmanship.

What we actually do connects us with everything else. We contend with conflicting impulses, that of attempting to set ourselves apart from others, and that of connecting more deeply with physical, social and cultural realities. Craftsmanship offers a path in which we can do both and at the very same time.

This is similar to Jerome Bruner's concept "Scaffolding." It is also related to the principles of Educational Sloyd as follows:
  • Start with the interests of the child.
  • Move from the known to the unknown
  • Move from the easy to the more difficult
  • Move from the simple to the complex
  • Move from the concrete to the abstract
There was an essay in yesterday's Arkansas Democrat Gazette by Samuel Totten, professor Emeritus from the University of Arkansas, addressing the failure of teacher education to actually achieve great or even good results. He notes:
"... there is a dire need for as much innovation as educators and others in the United States can come up with, including outstanding, cutting-edge alternative programs that are totally antithetical to the often mindless and outdated curricular programs offered by far too many current traditional, university-based teacher-education programs."
If you look at the principles of Educational Sloyd, you see that simple precept, "move from the concrete to the abstract." If teachers were simultaneously engaged in classroom teaching and an exploration of theory at levels of increasing complexity, you would witness a revolution in education. But sadly, we will not. Few in academia would ever imagine that they might learn something of value from manual arts.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, June 07, 2013

design spiral...

small sliding top boxes
In Wooden Boat, number 230 which came out at the beginning of this year, Paul Gartside describes what he calls a "design spiral," in which a designer revisits old designs and applies their characteristics to new designs.

The same can be said of a "technical spiral," in which a craftsman being familiar with a particular technique and having found success in its use will apply it over and over to a variety of projects as he or she explores its potentials. A dowel or biscuit may lead to a slot mortise, a slot mortise may lead to the real thing, then as a craftsman gains confidence in the use of hand or machine tools, he or she may spiral upward in the exploration of new techniques and design aesthetics.

A person might visualize these two spirals, one having to do with design and the other technique as being a double helix. If I had time, I would draw it for you. Instead, I will invite you to think about how a simple box is a complex intersection of aesthetics and techniques, that are closely related as we make decisions in box making.

sticky back sand paper laid on a flat surface. Voilà
Each year, as I teach at Marc Adams School, we do a picture of a box, surrounded by the vast array of design decisions, which essentially serve as a self-portrait of the maker... his or her intentions, aesthetics, skills, inspiration and aspirations.

Today in the wood shop, I am thinking about my upcoming class. I'll fly back to Indiana on Sunday. I am also working on two box designs and all the associated photos for my book currently in process.

Make, fix and create...

Thursday, June 06, 2013

ring box, cuff links, earrings and Sloyd

Walnut and spalted pecan
Sliding top, and mitered box joints.
 This is the sliding top box I made as a gift for my wife on our 30th wedding anniversary. The divider would be a convenient place to hang a pair of diamond earrings, but Jean insists we will use this beautiful box for other things.  It could also be used as a ring box or for cuff links. Graduation gift anyone?

The box is inspired in size, shape and purpose by one my student Alfred made in the last day of class last week at Marc Adams School.

Two blog readers alerted me to this article about Sloyd. Readers will also find more information on Bill Rainford's blog.

Bill is a graduate of the North Bennet St. School preservation carpentry program where he was first introduced to Sloyd.

I am pleased to see others getting interested in Educational Sloyd. Yesterday  I was explaining the principles of educational Sloyd to our new Clear Spring School head. When I got to a stopping point in my description, he responded, "Oh, Bloom's taxonomy... only 100 years before Bloom." According to Bloom, his was, "One of the most widely cited yet least read books in American education." And if you read it, you'll learn that it is a far more complex and less useful view of learning than what was offered in educational Sloyd. My new head of school could just as easily pointed out, Jerome Bruner's Scaffolding, just 100 years before Bruner, and he would have been just as right.

What I hope that folks someday discover is that Sloyd presented a comprehensive view of learning, not just a way to learn woodworking.

Still on the subject of Sloyd, I dreamed last night that I was demonstrating the relationship between woodworking and Tai Chi, perhaps stimulated by the quote from Roy Underhill:
"Everyone human likes to move, so we came up with yoga, dance and sport to make movement more engaging and expanding. So too with woodworking and Sloyd. The exercises of Sloyd can bring every modern woodworker along a thoughtful path of liberating discipline, of progress and accomplishment - and reconnection with the good feelings of our ancient craft."
If you are a practitioner of Tai Chi, you will note the similarity between "warding off" and the use of a bench plane or jointer as shown in the Salomon published image above. And if you had visited the school at Nääs, you would have observed the strong relationship between woodworking and gymnastics. And yet, in American education we designs schools and classrooms to restrain children at their desks. If there is a single-most source of idiocy in American education it is the failure to engage the whole child in learning. Treating the mind and body as separate systems is stupidity.

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, June 05, 2013


Once you get started in box making, it is easy to get carried away. I wanted to use a few different hardwoods to get a few different results and just a small amount of wood can lead to a large number of sliding top boxes.

These are sized to serve as presentation boxes for earrings, cuff links or a ring, so I can see a possible market for them. They are also fun to make. What you see in the photo is only a portion of the boxes currently in the works, and were started on Monday.

I received a copy of the  August 2013 issue of Fine Woodworking No. 234 which includes my Master Class on making wooden hinges. If you are interested in such things, the magazine will be in your local book store soon.

Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

alfred's box

mitered box joint
I have been making progress on a box inspired  by one that Alfred made during last week's box making class at Marc Adams School.

I have added a bit of complication to this design by making a mitered box joint, as you can see in the photo.

The box joints were cut using my dedicated router table box joint jig. The miters are cut on the table saw.

Next comes sanding, fitting a bottom and assembly. I hope to make lids in the morning before a planning meeting for next year at the Clear Spring School. This technique of making a mitered box joint will be one more thing to demonstrate in next week's class.

Make, fix and create...

Monday, June 03, 2013

What we receive from teaching...

Parts for a small finger jointed box
I am home from Marc Adams School of Woodworking for one week, and back in my own shop. Folks think that teaching is a one way street, with the information passing from teacher to student, but I always return home with new ideas that come from watching my students solve problems and make boxes. They challenge me, asking, "why do you do that?" and their questions make me think more deeply in what I'm doing, observe more closely, and changes in how I work often come as a result.

A good student makes a teacher better, and when I've been with students at Marc Adams School, I've spent my time with some of the best. Then to return home and work in my own shop brings added opportunity to apply what I've learned.

Today I am making small boxes inspired by a small zebrawood box that my student Alfred was making on the last day of class. It was a sweet thing, a small box with a sliding top. My own, will be done in a variety of woods, various sizes, and some will also explore the use of shaped sides. As you can see in the photo above, I've added a vacuum attachment to my box joint router table. It removes the sawdust as it is made, making less mess and allowing for greater accuracy.

Whether you are a student of woodworking or have mastered the art through long years in the wood shop, there is no more rewarding exercise than to share what you have learned with others. You will find teaching and sharing with others to be a fast track toward your own growth.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Throop University

I had trouble sleeping last night, as I was thinking about more box designs, stimulated by my interaction with students... Just as my students could hardly wait to get home to their shops and try the new things they have learned, I am in the same boat.

Tim Holton sent me a .pdf copy of the first catalog from Throop University in Pasadena, in which Calvin Woodward was quoted as follows:
Dr. Woodward says: "A manual training school is not a school for the training of carpenters, blacksmiths, machinists and mechanical engineers. In a manual training school, properly so-called, no attempt is made to cultivate dexterity at the expense of thought. No mere slight-of-hand is aimed at, nor is muscular exercise of itself held to be of educational value. An exercise, whether with tools or with books, is valuable only in proportion to the demand it makes upon the mind for intelligent, thoughtful work. In the school shop the stage of mechanical habit is never reached. The only habit actually acquired is that of thinking. No blow is struck, no line drawn, no motion regulated from muscular habit. The quality of every act springs from the conscious will, accompanied by a definite act of judgment."
Would it not be a wonderful thing if all book learning was also an exercise in conscious application of will? Could a reintroduction of manual arts be the repair necessary for a renewal of American education? Sad to say, things are not moving in that direction. Can you imagine an education that led to action in which what children learned was not measured by artificial means, but instead was measured through their direct contributions to family and community?

I am flying back to Arkansas today, leaving my truck and tools and display boxes so that I can return and teach the week of June 10-14. My upcoming class is full with 18 students signed up.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, June 01, 2013

box making day 5...

Each student made boxes in different styles.
We finished our box making class this afternoon and got the wood shop all cleaned up and ready for the next class. As you can see from photos, we had fun. As we were making boxes, two other classes were taking place. One was taught by Mary May, professional wood carver.

I will fly home tomorrow and return to Marc Adams School for my next class starting a week from Monday.

Make, fix and create...
A few of my students with many boxes.
Mary May's wood carving class.
Beautiful and creative boxes.