Sunday, February 07, 2016

hail the knife...

First coat of milkpaint
Last week, I mentioned Salomon's advice that rectilinear forms in Sloyd be alternated with curved shapes in the various models laid out in sequence for the student's growth. You can begin to understand so much more and why N. Christian Jacobsen was Otto Salomon's favorite author when you read the following:
The knife is that tool which a child most naturally and easily grasps: it is simple to have at hand and can be used for both this and that. It is a tool with which much work can completely be done, and without help from another. Yes, nothing more on this need be said; the knife is above all else the tool of ordinary dexterity, that is to say, sloyd’s tool.

But it is with the knife as with smoothing: it is not appealing to start with when the mechanical saw comes before it. 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 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. – N. Christian Jacobsen, Khristiania (Oslo) January 1892
Second coat of paint applied
My sincere thanks and appreciation to Barbara Bauer for her careful translation. Salomon's original point was to alternate models to retain student interest, but you can see that Jacobsen shed new light on the subject, going beyond what Salomon had in mind.

I have a simple observation, however, on the idea that things can be done "mechanically." Certainly, to the observer, when someone is sawing, it may seem as though he or she is simply moving the arm mechanically (thoughtlessly) back and forth. But that is not all that's going on. One must align one's body to the work, one's wrist to the proper angle, and the motions of the arm must be made smooth, within the necessary range, and no further. To get the saw to cut smoothly without jerking and binding takes concentration of mind as well as of body.

Adding the wiring and controls
In the wood shop at Clear Spring School, I am making another k-body box guitar, but this one I'm using 4 strings and am adding a piezo and electric controls. This required me to brush up on my soldering skills.

You can see that my box guitars are rectilinear in shape, but the necks require careful contouring to fit the hand, so I regard these guitars as being an excellent blend between rectilinear and curved forms. My students are excited about making them (as am I).

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

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