Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Mondays are my busiest days at the Clear Spring School. I have middle school and high school students in the morning and then all of the elementary school kids in the afternoon. That along with materials preparation makes for a busy day.

David Pye, a woodworker, philosopher and author in the UK, had noted that writing with a pen was an example of the relationship between certainty and risk. You cannot dip a pen in ink without it leading to a mark. You cannot erase what you have written in ink, and so once you set the tip of the pen to paper, things are changed.

Pye recognized two forms of workmanship, that of certainty in which the intelligence is built into a particular device and the results are consistently the same, and that of risk in which total attention of the craftsman is required. In workmanship of risk, one slip of the chisel and you are set off in a quest for for plan B.

Workmanship of certainty may be performed by the unskilled and unthoughtful.  Workmanship of risk is made successful through the exercise and development of skill and mindfulness... Developing therefore the character and intelligence of the craftsman.

In workmanship of certainty the jig is made and the results of the machine like operation will go on and on in relative perfection, until the machine like operator shuts down the process. In workmanship of risk, whether writing with a pen, or sawing dovetails by hand, there are opportunities for growth of either skill or intellect available to the craftsman. "Pye proposed that we build things to effect change." Workmanship of certainty may have a profound (and overwhelming) effect on the world around us. Workmanship of risk is a means through which to transform self.

Today I will sand boxes, sign them and apply finish.

Make, fix and create.

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