Monday, July 31, 2017

women in woodworking

My wood shop is a disaster zone. Today, as I attempt to restore order,  I begin getting ready for my last summer class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. The class begins on August 7. When that is finished I'll begin preparing for classes at the Clear Spring School.

Today I have a phone conversation scheduled with an educator from the Alexandria Seaport Museum, home of Joe Youcha's program, Teaching Math with Small Boats.

Today, also, a furniture making class for adults begins in the ESSA woodworking studio with Steve Palmer. Steve has 7 students enrolled in the class that will be making small tables, so I will check in during the week.

I have also been attempting to assist a scholar in her chapter of a new book that pertains to the impact of Educational Sloyd on the women's movement. The photo from my archive tells an important story. If anyone thought that woodworking was "women's work," a view from 1898 showing the Sloyd classroom at Nääs, tells another story. Young women played an essential role in the early days of the manual training movement, particularly in the world-wide distribution of Educational Sloyd. Young women and men from all over the world studied Sloyd at Nääs to gain the means to shape the lives of their students.

So how was Educational Sloyd different from the system of manual arts training that most of us know or have heard something about? While most manual arts programs focused on the economic benefits of such training, as students were prepared for industrial employment, Educational Sloyd focused on the formative benefits, as children were shaped in their humanity through the exercise of creative craftsmanship.

The image is a photo that I took of a photo in the archive at Nääs in 2006.

Make, fix, create, and increase the opportunity for others to love learning likewise.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Gordon and Wenonah Fay Holl

A collection of works gathered by friends is featured at the Historic Arkansas Museum in downtown Little Rock.  Gordon & Wenonah Fay Holl: Collecting a Legacy will be on display at the museum until February 2018. Anyone interested in the arts of Eureka Springs, should plan to attend. Gordon and Wenonah Fay Holl were introduced to me by Louis and Elsie Freund, well known artists of Eureka Springs at sometime during the 1980's or early 90's.

The Holls would stop by my booth to visit at the Arkansas Craft Guild's Christmas craft show in Little Rock each year. They accumulated a large and eclectic collection of arts that were then donated to the Historic Arkansas Museum. At the heart of their collection are works by Louis and Elsie Freund, artists who had a profound impact on the arts and artists of my own community of Eureka Springs.

The Holls and their collection serve as a reminder that one needs not be an artist in order to encourage the arts. I cannot remember if Gordon or Wenonah ever bought anything from me and that is not the point. Their  encouragement of craftsmen and artists in our work left a lasting impression.

I want to thank my wife, Jean for having discovered and alerted me to this exhibit.

Make, fix, create, and forge a lasting legacy in the arts.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


I've brought my tools home from ESSA and I will spend the coming week catching up on things, cleaning the shop and getting ready for my next class which will be in Connecticut beginning August 7. My students from the last week have gone home with a collection of small boxes they've made, and will share them along with stories from the week with family and friends.

The small boxes serve as evidence of learning, and evidence of relationship. The things we have made have a special quality and take a special place in our lives.

I have my own lovely boxes made during the week. My favorites are these tiny shaker boxes. It would be easy to make and finish more of them and perhaps to sell a few. On the other hand, the important thing is not to have stuff, or make stuff, but to exist in relationship with important concerns.

A useful term is symbiosis, meaning to live in direct mutually beneficial relationship with one's social, biological and economic milieu. How can one have meaning in one's own life without offering meaning to others? It is all a matter of identifying positive and negative space, and erasing boundaries that isolate us, and hold others in isolation.

Make, fix, create, and use the process to assist others in learning likewise.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Pocket boxes day 5

This is our fifth day of making pocket boxes at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. We will put hinge pins in tiny boxes and make inlaid lids for others. Students will finish the projects' they've started and at some time during the day we will clean the shop to have it ready for the next class.

I will bring home the various tools I took to ESSA, and begin preparing for my next class which will be at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking beginning August 7. There are still openings in that class.  Join us if you can.

I had a chance to play with new designs during this last week. I made some band sawn boxes that look like chunks of wood. The use of pop rivets hidden inside allow them to pivot open. The others are tiny shaker-style bentwood boxes.

In addition, I've been playing with making my own furniture finish based on Sam Maloof's formula that he used on his famous rocking chairs. It is one part urethane finish, one part mineral spirits, and one part boiled linseed oil. It is a simple formula that does not smell as bad as most. Followed by paste wax, and preceded by attention to fine sanding, it can give a lovely finish to a fine box. An additional benefit is that the ingredients to make a quart cost much less that a quart of Danish oil, and you can buy everything you need at your local hardware store.

Make, fix, create, and remind others of the effectiveness of learning likewise.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

3 days, five kinds of box...

My students at ESSA had been at work 3 days, and most have completed 4 or 5 kinds of tiny box. Today we will make hinged and sliding top "pocket boxes." We are each learning and exploring our relationship to the craft, and attempting to express the things that are relatively unique within ourselves.

I have been attempting to make some boxes of new designs to share with my students. One uses buried pop rivets to attach a pivot lid. Another is like a tiny shaker box with lift off lid.  So far, so good. You can make very interesting things from very small pieces of wood.

It's curious how much time is spent by human beings attempting to stand apart from each other and to do so by gaining notice or by defending turf. Loneliness and isolation are not worthwhile goals in human life. We seek to belong. Some gain a mistaken sense of belonging by controlling others. Others gain a sense of belonging by being of service.

In the arts, we are taught to look at both positive and negative space. Positive space is that defined by the shape and outlines of the object. Negative space is all that surrounds it. Thus, negative space describes the relationship of the object in its surroundings. Some of that relationship is visible. Some not. It is interesting that when one looks at an object, and even though we may draw crisp lines at the intersection between perceived shapes, these lines represent illusion and our inability to translate actual relationship onto paper. A painting (or a box) may be a wonderful thing but exists as a representation of relationship that the casual viewer or even its maker, may never fully understand.

There are no definitive lines between I and thou. And let us not forget that we are each a part of one another. That extends even to the least among us  whether we like it or not.

Today at 4PM- 5:30 we will have the ESSA studio stroll. I will demonstrate making tiny boxes. The photo above is of me in my teaching mode at the Mark Adams School of Woodworking, as I attempt to explain the negative space consisting of relationship and potentialities that surround (and inhabit) a simple box. We become better box makers, and better, more imaginative craftsmen, by thinking outside the box.

Make, fix, create, and improve the chances that others learn to love learning likewise.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

day three of pocket boxes.

I am ready for day 3 of making pocket boxes at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. Students already have several boxes in the works. Today I will get them started on two more designs.

Yesterday we made inlay. It's fun.

Make, fix and create.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pocket boxes

Yesterday we went though some design lessons, some slides on the making of pocket boxes, and then began making both bentwood and band sawn boxes in the ESSA pocket box making class. While I only have men in this class for some reason, woodworking is not a gender specific sport. In fact, many of the leaders in the manual training movement were women.

Some may recall Ednah Anne Rich, from my earlier writing. She was the author of an incredible book,  Paper Sloyd. I had known that she was educated in Sloyd at Gustaf Larsson's school in Boston, and then at Otto Salomon's school at Nääs. An inquiry from a reader led me to research by her married name, Edna Rich Morse. She and her many contributions to manual arts training in the US had been mentioned by Charles A. Bennett in his book History of Manual and Industrial Education, 1870-1917. You can read just a bit about her remarkable story here.

My point is that Educational Sloyd in its time, played a role in bringing women forward into positions of leadership in education.
"In 1909, the passage of Assembly Bill 1234 established the Santa Barbara State Normal School of Manual Arts and Home Economics. Ednah Rich was president. The school provided professional training in manual arts for careers in teaching. Rich was appointed to the State Board of Education, the first woman to hold such a post."
It had become commonplace to put boys in woodworking and girls in home economics or textiles, and some might think (wrongly, in my opinion) that the purpose was to enforce gender divisions in society at large. Certainly, the intent in Educational Sloyd was not to "keep women in their place." The photo above is one that I acquired on my visit to Nääs in 2006. It shows teachers at one of Otto Salomon's lectures on the history of education. An open mind might notice the number of women involved.

The building in which the lecture was held was the gymnasium where students were also taught to teach gymnastics and physical fitness. Educational Sloyd, in alignment with Kindergarten and the progressive movement in education, believed in the education of the whole child.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning likewise.

Monday, July 24, 2017

experts answer

How do you start kids working with wood? What's the first tool to recommend? Lee Valley interviewed folks at a woodworking show. The important thing may not be what tool you start with but that you start. Give them tools and allow them to create.

Today I start a 5 day class at ESSA on making "pocket boxes." Photos of progress will be shared during the week.

Make, fix, create, and allow others to love learning likewise.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

getting ready for pocket boxes.

I have six students for my pocket box class at ESSA that begins on Monday and have room for two more.  If you want to join that class call first thing Monday morning and be prepared for a week of fun. I still have a bit of work to do setting up, and still have an even greater amount of work to do refining the ESSA wood shop.

Yesterday I put up some wall cabinets in the bench room that were left over from my book Building Small Cabinets. One will  hold safety gear and the other small hand tools.

My next class will be Creative Box Making at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, starting in two weeks. There are still limited openings in the class if you want to attend.

One of the great benefit of classes here in Eureka Springs is that this place is so lovely.  It is a place to visit in its own right, and hundreds of thousands do each year. You can come and attend classes and your companion will not be bored while you do so. There's fine dining, fine shopping, and a truly great library.

A good video on the making of iron holdfasts can be found here: It shows a possible point of collaboration between our ESSA woodworking and black smithing studios. I have some of these for my own work bench.

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

Saturday, July 22, 2017


The Chinese have successfully teleported an object to space according to a brief article in Time Magazine, using and further proving the concept of quantum entanglement. The idea of entanglement had even left Einstein scratching his head. But now, scientists speculate that quantum entanglement will have all kinds of applications, including computers that can communicate without possibility of hacking. At some point entanglement may enable large objects to be transported through space instantaneously. (or not)

None of this is unrelated to education. The object of education should be to entangle students in the real world, not to sequester them in idleness and artificiality. So Friedrich Froebel used field trips, play with blocks, crafts, gardening, songs and music and care for small animals as tools to deeply engage students in learning (and in life) and to lead them into a full entanglement in holistic thought. Woodshops, as envisioned in Educational Sloyd were to connect the child further with his own creative and formative capacity, a process launched in Kindergarten.

Just as two photons can be introduced to each other and thence be connected through life, even to the furthest expanses of the universe, the same can be true for human beings. We can be led toward the development of powers that may be inexplicable to those who have not been led toward that same point of entanglement. The point of Froebel's kindergarten was to lead children toward a sense of wholeness that Froebel described using the term Gliedganzes or interconnectedness. One might just as easily use the term from modern physics, entanglement.

Entanglement may offer an explanation for what we commonly call coincidence. For example, earlier in the week, I got an email message from Joe Youcha from Alexandria Seaport Museum asking me to help promote his new books on using boat building to teach math. On the same day, I received an email from another person at the same museum asking to set up a appointment for a telephone interview. Neither was aware that the other was contacting me. Was that coincidence or entanglement, or what Black Elk described as follows:
Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our tepees were round like the nests of birds and these were always set in a circle, the nation's hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.-- Black Elk
I shipped a box guitar yesterday to Woodcraft Magazine, but kept one here for my amusement. Today I will prepare for my week long ESSA class on making "pocket boxes."

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others will become entangled in their own creativity.

Friday, July 21, 2017

studio stroll...

Each Thursday afternoon classes at ESSA things slow down just a bit at the end of the day for  "Studio Stroll" to which members of the community are invited to drink wine, eat snacks and see what students have learned during the week.

Yesterday, I attended a meeting to plan next year's programs, and I attended studio stroll at which professional woodturner Judy Ditmer did a demonstration for guests. I had not realized that woodturning could be performed as stand up  comedy routine. But Judy had the whole group laughing (and learning) for over 20 minutes. I hope we have her on our schedule again for next year.  Word will get out.

I am nearly done with my box guitars and am preparing for my own ESSA class in making "pocket boxes."

There are still spaces available in that class if anyone at the last minute chooses to attend. We will spend the week making very small boxes in a variety of designs, and no prior experience in woodworking is required. Students will carry home new skills, new friendships, and very small boxes to serve as evidence of learning and to share with friends. Register here: If you join next week's class, you will be able to share your own work during a studio stroll of your own.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others love learning likewise.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Those who develop new technologies are often narrowly focused and may lack an understanding of the overall culture and character of humanity at large. Focus too strongly on one thing and you'll miss others.

Yesterday I listened the the radio program 1-A in which an artificial intelligence proponent and expert described the impact of technology on the arts. He described how artificial intelligence, (a-i) would put "art" in the hands of the masses, making all things so easy for all.  With A-i and without carefully cultivating skill of hand and without knowing or learning anything but the manipulation of the device, each of us could be an artist without exerting any effort at all. In fact, we could set our devices in motion, creating art, and just check in on their progress once in a while to observe what we've "done."

And I ask the question that one engaged in the tactile arts must ask.
What is the impact of this proposed future on our humanity? 
We set ourselves apart from the mundane and from each other by developing expertise, skill and creative intellect.  Our creative vision that we hope to share with others comes from within our uniquely meaningful experience. The character and intelligence of the individual human being rests upon having done difficult and demanding things. When all of our judgment, our character and our intelligence has been off-loaded to the artificialized intelligence of our digital stuff, what will remain of us?

That is the future that stands before us now. We can reject that dismal life by engaging in the arts. Make music with a real instrument. Make something real from wood. Paint with a brush on canvas something you witness in real life. When you are done, try again and attempt to improve what you've done.

A vision of that future when very little remains of us was imagined by E.M. Forster in his short story, The machine stops. I have shared this short story before with readers because it is prophetic.

It was written and published in 1909

Today I will string guitars and finish the photography and text.

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

gender and sloyd...

Yesterday I visited the turning studio at ESSA and noted that there is an exact balance between men and women in attendance. The teacher is a woman. Any notion that woodworking is gender specific is in error.

Unfortunately, in the early days of Educational Sloyd, the roles of men and women were relatively fixed within society. Women at that time did not have the right to vote or own property, and this was true in most cultures around the world.

Given those circumstances, it made sense for boys to learn those things that would be accomplished outside the home, and women to be taught those things that were learned and done within. The gentleman in the photo above is Hans Thorbjörnsson, my guide to my visit at Nääs in 2006. Together we went though a huge archive of photos showing men and women almost in equal number, students from all over the world, learning to teach Sloyd. Attendance at Nääs prepared women returning to the US prepared to take leadership roles in American Education.

Unlike the Russian system of woodworking education, that was intended to prepare students for industrial employment, Educational Sloyd was intended to prepare students for life. This did not favor men over women. In fact, following the guidance of Froebel and Pestalozzi, the gifts of women in the teaching profession were well accepted and promoted. While the stupidity of earlier times failed to recognize women as full partners in voting and property rights, the character and quality of the individual (men and women) was of primary concern in Sloyd.

Today I will finish work on the article about making a box guitar.

Make, fix, and create...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

turning the world around.

This week at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts, we have a class with Judy Ditmer. She is a nationally known woodturner who has written for a variety of publications and we are pleased to have her teaching here.

A person standing at a lathe is not just making an object, but is also transforming self in the spirit of craftsmanship.

I listened to a report yesterday speculating on the return of manufacturing in America. Manufacturers are are finding too few persons interested. Too few have an understanding of what it takes to build a quality product. And so we wonder when educational policy makers will begin to connect the dots.

Schooling must not be about reading and math alone, but must also help students find joy in making real things in service of family and community.

I have been continuing to order things needed for equipping the new wood shop, and yesterday I ordered lamps to fit each of our 9 Robust lathes. I had felt that the lathe room has been just a bit dark, but the spot lights at each lathe will not only brighten the place but also make each lathe station a stage for performance art.

Today, In addition to working on the article about making a box guitar, I'll be preparing for my week long class making pocket boxes.

Make, fix, create, and share what you learn so that others may learn likewise.

Monday, July 17, 2017

almost done

I am attending to the final details on the box guitar for Woodcraft Magazine. The bit of blue tape is to glue down a chip that was coming loose. The steel plate for attaching the strings is ready to attach after the finish is applied.

The point of this guitar is that it can be quickly made and still worthy of play. The more you make the better you get at it, and by applying yourself over a period of time, and adding just a bit to your knowledge as you go, some degree of mastery can be attained.

Choose a worthy goal for yourself. Apply yourself over time. The goal may be in music, the culinary arts, gardening or in the tactile arts and visual arts.

In a comment on an earlier post, Kim Brand described giving a work bench to his grandson. He had not realized how important having a creating space of his how might be to his grandson's level of enthusiasm. Kim further described how the neighbor children now come to watch his grandson's creative efforts.  A bench vise might be a good addition.

Years back, following a presentation I made on the Wisdom of the Hands at the Craft Organization Development Association meeting, an artist told me of having purchased woodworking tools for her grandson. Her daughter-in-law would not let them in the house. She was concerned her son would make a mess and damage the furniture. So she had chosen instead to make a mess of her son's life.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.

Sunday, July 16, 2017


I am home from the Stowe family reunion in Montana, and I'm ready to finish making a couple box guitars for an article in Woodcraft Magazine. I will also begin getting ready for a class at ESSA making pocket boxes. I expect to see review files for my box guitar book soon, and I am also getting ready for a class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking beginning August 7. There are still openings in the class in Connecticut.

A few photos from my trip are as follows:
  1. A view from the wooden vessel DeSmet, while on a tour of MacDonald Lake. 
  2. A view of MacDonald Lake with standing dead trees from the forest fire of 2003.
  3. My daughter standing on the Continental Divide on the trail to Hidden Lake.
  4. The Road to the Sun.
  5. A typical view in the Glacier National Park.
The DeSmet is one of the fleet of old wooden tour boats still kept operable on the lakes of Glacier National Park.  These wonderful boats were featured in Wooden Boat Magazine last year. It was lovely being in Glacier National Park and seeing the number of young families getting a taste of wilderness.

Make, fix, create and introduce children to the wonderful world of nature and of real things.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

cocktails for a cause...

This week while I am in Montana, Cocktails for a Cause in Eureka Springs will be held at
Amigo's Restaurant on Spring St. in downtown Eureka Springs at 5 PM Thursday, July 13. Cocktails for a Cause is being held as a fundraiser for the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. Part of the fundraiser will be the auction of a box that I made for a product review in the current issue of Fine Woodworking Magazine.

It is made from spalted sycamore, walnut and cherry.

The box to be auctioned is shown in the photo.

While I've been away on vacation, the ESSA wood studio hosted 30 members of the Stateline Woodturners for three days of demonstration and class.

Make, fix, and create.

Monday, July 10, 2017

making minor adjustments in perception of the real world.

I am in Montana for a family reunion but have brought work with me in the form of digital photos that I'll select, label and caption for the article about making a box guitar for Woodcraft Magazine. I am also working on a couple more articles for Fine Woodworking Magazine. One will be about making finger joints on the table saw, and the other being considered is about making a child's workbench based on those we've used for years at the Clear Spring School.

It is beautiful here, and it is a treat to see so many members of my extended family. Today's our cooking day. We will prepare dinner for the whole family. My jobs will be to tote and chop.

When artists look at the world in an effort to draw what they see, they are encouraged to look at both positive and negative space. In positive space, shapes are formed by light falling on the boundaries of the object. Negative space consists of the emptiness or empty space between positive forms. As examples, if you are standing with your hand on hip and your elbow extended, the triangular space formed between the crook of your arm and your torso would be called negative space, or if two people stand apart, the space between would be negative space.

Unlike the artist, we are taught to dwell upon and identify positive forms related to positive space. It is easier to simply name an object than to comprehend all the relationships of that object's place in the world. And yet things are complex and profound. One of the exercises I use in teaching box making is that of thinking outside the box. It is easy to think of a box in a simplistic matter, and yet, a simple box, when viewed from a variety of perspectives is complex. What is to hold, what are the materials used, how are the corners secured, and how does it open? How is it decorated (if it is), and what skills are expressed in its making? And of course what's the point?

The exercise of examining the real world, beyond the prejudgements we and others have made of it requires that we examine the not so empty space that surrounds us. We are given a choice in life. We can think of ourselves as isolated, separate and alone, or we can instead understand that the artificial boundaries within which sequester ourselves is illusion. The space between us in not empty space. It is filled with relationship. When we we make an effort to understand both positive and negative space we know that we are not truly individuals, but are instead, part of an incredible wholeness. And as parts of that wholeness and as we begin to understand our opportunities within that wholeness, we may choose to go great lengths to take great care of each other.

This is not new information. Anaxagoras, in the image above holds what appears to be a model of the world even before the earth was known to be a sphere. He was the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who said that "Man is the wisest of all animals because he has hands." Anaxagoras also believed that "in everything there is a share of everything," foreshadowing Froebel's concept of Gliedganzes or inter-connectedness. So all this is about things you can learn in Kindergarten and wood shop.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, July 07, 2017

my remaining summer classes...

My first two summer box making classes were full and are now past. I have two more coming up and there are still spaces available in each.

Beginning July 24 I have a week long class in making Pocket Boxes at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. August 7-11 I have a class in Creative Box Making at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking.

I get questions about my teaching schedule, and these two classes are what remain. Join me if you can.

A woodworking club in Minneapolis asked if I could take a video of myself to help them sell their members on a proposed class in November. Self-produced video is out of my line, but I referred them to a video interview produced by friends, Murdo Laird and Nancy Paddock.

The photo shows drilling a sound hole in the top of a box guitar. I fitted and glued a circle of walnut into a  hole in the cedar top, and then drilled a smaller hole through it. The loose piece at the center is scrap. Some sanding of the edges will finish the job.

Make, fix, and create.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

As you can see...

The photo shows progress in making a box guitar. The screws holes have been pre-drilled into the solid maple so they will enter the wood in an accurate position and without splitting the wood. Those who have worked with hardwood will know that it is called "hard" for a reason. Nails cannot enter the wood without bending or splitting. Screws? pilot holes are required. Most hardwoods have amazing strength and density, and maple in particular is hard and dense. Blocking glued on the inside of the guitar box gives additional strength to the attachment of box and neck.

My goal today is to get as many photos of guitar making done as I can so that when I go to a family reunion next week, I'll have editing and captioning to do in my spare time.

This weekend at ESSA, the Stateline Woodturners will meet for a demonstration and class. Stateline Woodturners are from Missouri and North Arkansas and is an organization chartered by the American Association of Woodturners. I welcome them to our new facility and wish them happy turning and learning at The Eureka Springs School of the Arts.

Make, fix, create, and adjust your own life to assist others in learning likewise.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

necks and frets

Yesterday I shaped maple necks and cut the tight grooves for installing frets. It went faster than I expected,  not because I have any particular skills but because I've done it before. Experience counts. I used a template to mark the location for each fret and then used a block of wood clamped in place to help guide the saw.  After the neck is cut to its final length I can fit it to the box and install the top and back of the guitar. I hope to have much of it completed on Thursday.

That a box guitar can be so quickly made should convince others to do likewise.

Kim Brand  sent a link to a paper explaining the role of independent schools in bringing about school reform. The paper concerns the Hawken School in Cleveland: Why Hawken Has to Lead. It is an attempt to explain to the school community and others why independent schools (also like Clear Spring School) must have the courage to lead in bringing about real change. It should help some to understand that standardization leads to mediocrity. In trivializing education through abstract and trivial standards, we trivialize the child.

The correct formula is simple. Put children to work and play doing (and thereby learning) real things that benefit their communities. Student character and intelligence are allowed to grow when student interests and higher purposes are met. Instead of meeting artificial standards, doing real things has no upper limit and has real purpose understood by the child in real time as it applies in his or her own life.

Make, fix, create and adjust all schooling so that others may learn likewise.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

fixing things and scrap...

Yesterday, in addition to beginning work on guitar necks, I ordered repair tools for the new wood studio at ESSA and learned that the wood studio is offering an unexpected benefit. The women who oversee and tend the iron studio had discovered a barrel full of our scrap. They asked, "What are you planning to do with all that?"

I was asking that question myself. Would we compost it, burn it, or have it hauled away in the trash? Instead we will make a box to hold special pieces of wood useful for making scales for knives, and now, having some idea of what they want, we can sort and save special pieces for their use. The remainder will be composted.

The photo shows the thumbnail layout of the article about making box guitars. You can tell that the editor from Woodcraft, Tim Snyder, is one of those who had drafting in high school or college. How many these days letter so neatly and with such style? Click on the image to see it in a larger size and you'll see what I mean.

I am using the thumbnail design to guide my photography. It illustrates what will become 8 pages of photos and text.

Happy fourth of July. In our local community small aerial bombs were bursting all through the night. North Korea now has an intercontinental ballistic missile. May we find our way toward living with them in peace. The making of useful beauty serves both community and self. We are made better persons when we are engaged in making things that serve others. We may also find joy in the process.

Make, fix, and create. The world will be better for it.

Monday, July 03, 2017

teaching alone in my shop.

Yesterday I began making the box part of a box guitar. The first step is to prepare the materials for the sides. I used a band saw to rip maple stock right down the middle so it could be planed to final thickness of about 3/8 in. The sides of this box will be arranged with a four corner match and be held together by keyed miter joints.

The four corner match with grain running continuous around all four corners of the box is accomplished by book matching, a process in which the board is simply opened inside out, just as one would open a book. Normally book matching is done with the grain in the parts running side by side. For book matching sides, the match is achieved end to end.

The small walnut keys will add interest to the corners. Some viewers say "I like the inlay in the corners," as they may not understand that the keys have more than decorative effect. They strengthen the joint.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, the camera is a frequent guest in my shop, allowing me to teach and share when no one else is present. It is an undemanding guest. It never asks for lunch. But it enables me to share what I've done.

After taking the photos, I'll go through them and write captions and text to describe what the photos show and some of what they cannot show. Then copies of the photos will be sent to the magazine for review.

This is 4th of July weekend when our small town is overrun with guests who have come for the holiday. It is great to have so many people in town, but it is also a great time to stay home, off the highway, and in my own shop. Today I expect to add the walnut keys to the box I have assembled, then turn my attention to shaping the neck. By the end of the week, I plan to have the box guitar ready for strings.

Make, fix, and create. By doing so, you may encourage others to learn likewise.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Finding a less trivial pursuit...

Today I am putting things away from having taught at ESSA all week. I supplied jigs and tools for making a variety of joints for boxes, and those must be returned to their places, and order must be returned to my home shop. There is a relationship between internal order and the external form. My internal processing tends to be impulsive and creative, and my shop falls along the same messy path. But fitting the camera safely into the shop is like having a guest. For writing an article for a magazine (as I begin today), I'll try to attain a less cluttered field of view.

This is the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone. Now, everywhere we go, eyes are focused on screens both big and small. At dinner in restaurants, couples can avoid eye contact while completely engaged in self-trivialization.

This morning as I stepped between the house and shop, a very tiny brown toad was jumping along the walk. Smaller by far than a copper penny, it's a reminder that not all life is as trivial as what we might pursue on our phones.  I did use my phone to take a photo of it. Being less attentive to real life, I might have stepped on it instead.

Make music, make conversation, make beautiful and useful things. Observe nature and learn from it.

Make, fix, create, and increase the opportunity for others to learn likewise.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

a day of rest...

I am home from teaching a 5 day box making class in the new woodworking studio at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts and will begin ordering some of the things that are still needed there. For instance, we need a full set of tools to do various things related to maintenance of equipment. We borrowed stools from the blacksmithing studio for last week's course, and those will be replaced with stools dedicated to the wood studio. The acquisition of various things will go on for awhile, and we are pleased (and grateful) that additional funds have been given by various donors.

Today I rest. Tomorrow I begin work on an article for Woodcraft Magazine about making a box guitar.

Career and Technical Education (CTE) seems to be on the rise as high tech manufacturing is growing in the US and jobs are hard to fill. As I've discussed earlier, educational policy makers had insisted that all student needed to go to college, and that the entire thrust of their education pre-k through 12th grade should be oriented toward that singular goal.

Junius L. Meriam in his book, "Child Life and the Curriculum," 1921, insisted that curriculum should not be designed toward some future goal, but should assist the child in living his or her life in the present time. Education is burdened by abstraction, and artificiality which is a part of what I meant when I wrote;
“In schools we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement… Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract, and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.”
That short passage was quoted by Matthew Crawford at the opening of his best selling book Shop Class as Soulcraft. I ran across Matt Crawford quoted in this week's Time Magazine in an article about how manufacturers are actively taking away from farmers the right to repair their own equipment. In that article, Crawford notes: "Being able to be the master of your own stuff, to open it up and take a look and take care of it, answers to a vary basic human need." If you can own a tractor, but not have control of the software that enables it to work (as is the case now), manufacturers can bleed you for all you're worth.

You can help push our society in the right direction by supporting "Right to Repair" bills in your local legislature, but in doing so, you will be facing a huge wall of resistance from corporations who want to keep you from being able to fix your own stuff.

Make, fix, create and assist others in learning likewise.