Wednesday, October 31, 2018

pick up...

This small pickup truck was made by a student in Monday's class. The student designed it himself using the parts I had on hand and scraps from the scrap bucket I save for such things. I helped by making a few small cuts.

Today in the school wood shop students will be working on a variety of projects at different grade levels. My job is to keep them supplied with the essentials and then to assist and watch over to assure their hands are safe.

Clean up is the most difficult time, as it requires students to quit what they are deeply engrossed in, and bring things to the point at which they can be either taken home or put away.

I hope that some of these lovely things are put away by parents at the end of the day to serve as remembrances. They are expressions of growth and could be treasured as such.

Make, fix and create....

Monday, October 29, 2018


Mondays are busy days in the Clear Spring School wood shop. I start out with the lower elementary students grades 1-4 in the morning, and then have the middle school and upper elementary in the afternoon. My students are working on a variety of projects, ranging from a little free library in the middle school to bridges and toys in the elementary school. My middle school students also want to make mail boxes so they can join in the exchange of mail started in the elementary school.

In my own shop over the weekend, I prepared box parts for hinging and installing lids on 88 boxes.  Assembly comes next.

Yesterday on facebook where you can also receive the posts from this blog  a reader took offense at my making a comment as to the killing of Jews in Pittsburgh and its relationship to political rhetoric practiced by the current administration. The reader's point was that he only wanted to read about woodworking and would not be back.

However, woodworking for me has never been a disconnected arm hanging useless in space. It is deeply entwined in the rest of reality. It is a connecting point, that leads to greater things. And if it did not, what would be the point?

Yes, it can be used to isolate oneself from the world, hanging out safely and alone in one's own wood shop. Or it can be a practice through which one attempts to be of greater service to family and humanity. It can go one way or the other.

For me, it has been a way to learn and practice core values. Craftsmanship, Creativity, Compassion, Connectivity and Forgiveness. If that offends a few, I feel empathy and prescribe some time in the wood shop. Attempting to make beautiful and lasting things from real wood is a great way to practice one's forgiveness.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, October 28, 2018

in response

I'm not sure what to say in response to a shameful day in America. There are many who can speak more eloquently than I.

Our president who's blown dog whistle politics as a well practiced art said in response to Nazi's marching in Charlottesville, "there are fine people on both sides." It was reported by his first wife that he kept a book of Hitler's speeches at bedside. He believes he should be president for life, just as is his beloved Putin in Russia.

His embrace of certain people and his use of code words from rascist and anti-Semitic sources have provided cover for American anti-Semites, racists and white supremacists. Perhaps he was forgetting or ignoring the millions of Jews killed by the Nazis.

In response to the killing of eleven in the Synagogue in Pittsburgh, he's said a few scripted words written by others before launching into his continued attacks on the free press and on Democrats. The man is incapable of being a normal American president. He has shamed us all.

One must wonder about Republicans. My dad was one. In the bottom drawer of our bureau when I was a child, he kept a scrap book of images from the German concentration camp at Nordhausen. My dad, as an officer in the 104th Infantry Division had to go there to witness and to assist in the clean up, ordering German citizens to go in and stack bodies that in life had been reduced to walking skeletons. My father would be shocked to see a Republican party enslaved to dog whistle politics and anti-Semitism, and a leader cast in the image of the man who attempted to enslave Europe.

Will the Republican party wake up? Early voting has started in Arkansas. I urge you to vote. If you are a Republican urge the leaders of your party to understand that we all are much better than what the party has become.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

A poem for today...

Yesterday at the Clear Spring School, middle school students worked on their arched bridges and Kindergarten students made "cat boxes." The middle school students have put so much effort into their bridges that they no longer plan to test them to a breaking point. They have other uses in mind.  If you show something made of wood to Kindergarten students that you've made, they will want to make one, too. I guarantee.

Last week we made flag poles, and their teacher, Miss Charla, was amazed at how excited they were with what such simple things.The wonderful and most natural enthusiasm Kindergarten students have for everything should help us to understand what's possible in American education. This week I showed a small box with cat ears and whiskers and had parts ready.

Woodworking with Kindergarten students takes one adult to two or three kids and requires the parts to be cut in advance.  The cat boxes were ready for decoration in one half hour of hammering nails. Other photos of this project can be found on instagram:
A Piece of Wood
by Henry Rohr

Every possibility is sleeping in such a piece of wood
It depends on you
how you look at it
what you see in it-

some useless obstacle in your way
fuel to light your fire
to build a fence around your isolation
to build a house- a door- a table.

OR a challenge
waiting just for you
to be set free
to be called to life.

The woodcarver, the artist sees it like that.

He takes it in his hands
and sees the hidden life
and makes it speak
Of growth and death
joy and pain
all the mysteries of life.

All this is contained
in a piece of wood.
Make, fix, and create. Assist others to do the same.

Friday, October 26, 2018

my presentation...

Yesterday I gave a talk about Kindergarten and learning through play at the Eureka Springs Rotary meeting. I am reminded that I'm better at writing than at speaking. I tend to wander off along trains of thought without circling back to finish and then realize the ineffectiveness of my method later as I review my thoughts with no audience remaining to bring to the finish I intended. In writing, I can read through and catch the tail to circle things up.

I am reminded of my old Political Science teacher at Hastings College. He would work hard to explain each concept from different angles. We knew he knew what he was talking about, but I was often left clueless concerning how I would put any of it to work or where it fit into the scheme of things. I am also reminded of my Sociology professor, Mr. Lane. He was a slender, active man, who moved lithely before the class, back and forth as he made his important points. But where are those points, so carefully cast before a sleepy class?

Let's think honestly about schooling. There are two important forms of knowledge, Kentniss, having to do with things we discover through our own experience and Wissenshaft, having to do with what has been described to us second or third hand. The hands are literally absent in the latter. And Wissenshaft must be constantly refreshed and tested at hand in order to be of further use.

Use it or lose it. Book crap you may have never have truly gotten in the first place. Out of sight, out of mind. And yet, I can still hear my Political Science professor's voice droning through a variety of angles of approach toward complex abstractions and I can still see dear Mr. Lane walking back and forth before the class. Those things were real to me. What they tried so hard to teach was not. And so I'm trying once again to explain why and how those things we learn from the real world are of greater lasting value than what we learn when we are sequestered from reality in real schooling.

One good thing I learned at Rotary is that my attempt to introduce our Public Schools to A+ Schools has resulted in an appointment on November 9, in which the local school superintendent and the director of A+ Schools will meet.

Make, fix and create...

Thursday, October 25, 2018

some progress...

Yesterday in the wood shop at the Clear Spring School, my middle school students applied wooden siding to the Clear Spring School Little Free Library. Of all the ideas they discussed over the last two weeks, they decided on a log cabin look with horizontal siding with rounded edges applied to the sides. With that now complete, we'll address the doors and interior shelves.

This project has the potential of serving the community long after these students are grown.  And what they have learned will not be forgotten.

My high school students are continuing work on the restoration of the sewing thread cabinet, and my elementary school students are making superheroes and toys.

Today I'll visit the Eureka Springs Rotary as guest speaker to discuss hands-on learning.

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

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

gathering thoughts

I am gathering my thoughts for a presentation Thursday to the Eureka Springs Rotary club. I plan to show the Kindergarten documentary film trailer as a starting point. I also want to share the reason hands-on learning works. It's no secret.

There is a difference between long term and short term memory. Short term can be captured in the "drill and kill"  or "drill and spill" methodology used generally in public education. You read stuff, or have stuff presented to you by lecture. You try to memorize content. You kill it by regurgitating it in the testing process. Once spilled on paper or on a test it's lifeless and of no further use.

Hands-on learning requires you to be present in the full sense. Your body is there with a complex neural network providing feedback. It requires you to anchor what you are learning by comparing it to prior learning. It provides a use for what you learn, making it relevant in your own life, not for some future date by which time it will have been forgotten, but in the now.

I'm looking forward to the coming issue of Wooden Boat Magazine, the Nov. /Dec. 2018 issue. It will feature our students and Bevins Skiffs in the launchings section, but will also feature Joe Youcha's Building To Teach program as the cover story. Wooden Boat Magazine is one of the few publications that is willing to invest heavily in telling the story of hands-on learning and its importance as a means to reinvigorate education.

If you think of a boat safely anchored at harbor and facing a storm, a single anchor point is not enough. Common schooling as practiced currently in the US is not enough. It provides no anchors for subsequent learning. There's not enough neural network feedback to make what one learns meaningful, or relevant, or lasting in memory or usefulness.

While I'm gathering my thoughts, I urge you to gather thoughts of your own. Hands-on learning is not something new. Throughout modern times, educators and philosophers have recognized its value. Administrators and politicians have balked, preferring to cheap out.

Yesterday I heard an interview with Trump's son in law. He stated a law from the business world, that you can only control things that you can measure. Is that the point of our current educational methodology of standardized testing and standardized curriculum? If so, like dogs needing to know more of our world, we should be pulling  hard at the leash. Is education to be only a means of social control, or may it be allowed as an instrument of unleashing human capacity?

Yesterday in the wood shop at the Clear Spring School my upper elementary school students worked on their arched bridges. Lower elementary students worked on independent projects, and my middle school students worked on their little free library.

Today in my home shop I'll cut box lids to length to prepare them for laser engraving of a logo on the inside.

Make, fix and create...

Monday, October 22, 2018

finishing lids

Yesterday I sanded and finished the insides of 80+ inlaid boxes to prepare them for being cut apart and engraved with a logo. These must be completely finished by the first week of December to be shipped. The application of Danish oil to the insides of the lids brought a first glimpse of the beauty that will be revealed in the finished boxes. The various parts for the boxes have been cut to size and milled to fit, so after the engraving is complete, they can be assembled, sanded and finished.

We are adjusting to life with a new puppy and the attention 9 week old Rosie requires is enormous.

Even with over a month to go before shipping date on the boxes, I feel a bit nervous at times. A thing one learns as a self employed craftsman is to not disappoint.

Today in the wood shop at the Clear Spring School, students will be building bridges, making toys, and working on a little free library that's now become a log cabin with unicorn. The design may yet change again, and I'm having difficulty keeping the middle  class engaged. Kids are like puppies.

I am preparing for a presentation to the Eureka Springs Rotary Club on the value of play in learning.

Make, fix, and create...

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Shane Speal...

I featured some of Shane Speal's box guitars in the gallery section of my box guitars book, and now Shane has a book of his own. It is a lovely creation, telling of the history of box guitars and other folk made musical instruments. It also presents a wide array of creative options in making these instruments on your own.Some of the guitars featured are early instruments made by craftsmen of an earlier time. His book is called, "Making Poor Man's Guitars." It and some of Shane's music can be found here:

In my own shop, I've completed the process of inlaying 80 boxes to be used as Holiday gifts by a customer. I'll not mention the name so as to avoid spoiling any surprises.

Today I will sand the inside surfaces of the lids, so that they can have the first coat of finish applied before they are sent to an engraver for a logo to be laser engraved. I've found that applying the first coat of finish first enhances the laser's effect.

You will notice that I've done the inlaying in pairs for ease of handling. After the sanding is complete and the first coat of finish is applied, I'll cut the lids to preliminary lengths so that the laser engraver can accurately locate the logo on the inside of each lid. This may seem like a lot of boxes. I've made and sold thousands.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Flag poles...

As a project for my Kindergarten students yesterday afternoon, I came up with the idea of making flags and flagpoles. The project involved colored markers, a drill press, a Veritas tenoner, small scraps of thin plywood, and nails. Hammers, too, of course.

The project was a huge success. The kids loved what they'd made and were proud to take them home.

I had to make a model first to show them what they were to make. Making the model first allows me to anticipate the tools needed, the particular challenges the children will face, and to be prepared to help. Making a model first also helps by utilizing the principles of Educational Sloyd, moving from the known to the unknown and from the concrete to the abstract.

Have you ever seen such cute smiles?

Make, fix and create....

Friday, October 19, 2018

mad hatter

The Mad Hatter Ball in support of the Eureka Springs School of the Arts is tonight. Grab a hat or make one and head for the fun at the Crescent Hotel.

My Krenov inspired cabinet from my book Building Small Cabinets will be auctioned off to support ESSA. There will be a number of other art objects being sold to provide art classes and administrative support.

There are three things that are important to the future of our small town of Eureka Springs. One is that we are a "Tree City USA," a designation that requires us to protect our trees, thus preserving natural scenic beauty. Two, we have a designated historic district encompassing nearly the whole town, making certain that we act to preserve the contributions of earlier generations. The third point is that we are an arts community.

Being an arts community inspired our citizens to protect our trees and our historic buildings, streets and stone walls. In consequence, protecting these important qualities has made our citizenry appreciate the beauty with which we are surrounded. And you do not even have to be an artist to appreciate what we have here.

My upper elementary school students are building arched bridges as shown. They were particularly offended when tour buses crossed the historic bridge at Beaver Town. Not only did those buses surpass the weight limit, putting the historic bridge at risk, they put their own passengers at risk of death by drowning. You can see the stupidity of it here:

Having a citizenry attuned to the values of our natural and historic treasures can be an impediment to business as usual. So perhaps that's one reason schools would prefer to focus on standardized tests and not on the character of our youth. The drivers of those buses should be arrested for reckless driving and endangering their passengers. In all likelihood, they were not.

Make, fix and create...

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Archeological wood working

Yesterday my high school students began saving an old thread cabinet that had once been used in a drygoods store to sell thread, and that had then been stored in a barn. Unlike some that you can buy on eBay for a thousand dollars or more, this one is in desperate condition. Unlike those that you can buy for a thousand dollars or more, this one was owned by a family for many years and has family history attached.

Parts are missing. Other stray parts were stashed within. One thing we found was the steel key to a small safe. And the kids were captured by their imaginings as they began taking the cabinet apart where necessary and beginning the clean up. Fortunately the group of students is small, each can work on a part and none are left out.

Teaching is a complex exercise. Each pupil arrives at school with his or her own unique accumulation of prior knowledge. Each comes with a unique set of goals and parental expectations.

Each arrives with aspects of personality, firmly set. And the teacher's complex job is to foster the growth in each one. Of course, from the administrative standpoint (the perspective that drives most schools and American education at large) all kids are the same and are to be delivered the same packets of learning, timed to meet the administrative goals and methods established at the top.

And so, if that's the case, when do students have time to saw? When will students open the doorways to their own imaginations?

Make, fix, and create...

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Rosie project day two.

Guided by the Monk's guide: The Art of Raising a Puppy, we have added Golden Doodle Rosie to our household.

She had one accident on the floor and has set up a mournful howl when I'm out of sight. All animal behavior is evolved from millions of years of development just as is our own. Folks would like to think that human beings are different, and particularly that human beings in the digital age are different from ever before.

We are, Rosie and the rest of us, constantly learning to cope, adapt and to get along with each other.

Make, fix and create...

an introduction.

The dog is Rosie and we pick her up this morning. She is an 8 1/2 week old golden doodle, joining our small family. We've been without a pet for years now and take the adoption and training of a pup very seriously.

I have been reading a great book on the subject of adopting a puppy by the Monks of New Skete. It seems dogs and children have a lot in common. Each is an individual. Each learns best through the gentleness of play. Occasionally stern measures are required. Each has to find his or her place in the pack and his or her role in the family and community. For dogs there are alpha males and alpha females and then more submissive roles. There is also a natural process of growth, development and group integration that, if disrupted can lead to difficulties requiring stern measures for correction.

In a community of humans, things are only a bit more complex. So if you want to learn a bit more about basic human psychology, read The Art of Raising a Puppy by the Monks of New Skete. Handled gently from the beginning, in full recognition of the various patterns of individuality, children and pups can be steered toward constructive relationships.

Yesterday in wood shop at the Clear Spring School my first grade boys learned to make toy cars and super heroes. For most it was the first time to use a saw.

In the meantime, welcome Rosie!

Make, fix, and create.

Monday, October 15, 2018

A swivel lid box.

One important question about sharpening has to do with which method to use (waterstones, oil stones, diamond stones or sand paper.) I think we concluded that each would bring the tools to a useful edge.

On Saturday I mentioned David Pye to my students and then became distracted before telling them the important part.  Pye, wrestling with how to find value in a craftsman's work in the machine age, decided that craftsmanship of risk in which there is potential for the craftsman's growth was of greater value to society than machine made craftsmanship of certainty in which no immediate growth was certain in the character of the craftsman, and in which the man operating the machine became machine like in his actions and thoughts.

Yesterday I did home maintenance and am always pleased that I have a few tools at hand.

Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop, my elementary school students will be making toys.

A friend in Oregon shared the box images in this post, based on a box design in my book Beautiful Boxes Design and Technique. Naturally he made some changes in the design, using mitered joints instead of the modified butt joint I used in the book. The spalted wood on the top has been strengthened and stabilized by a polymer process, so it will not decay any further. Nor will it expand and contract as does normal wood.

I take credit for the original design, but Bob Sokolow's craftsmanship is superb. It is a pleasure to see one of my boxes offered so beautifully through the hands of a friend.

Make, fix and create.

Sunday, October 14, 2018


Yesterday at ESSA, I had 7 students who brought lots of various tools as I had requested. The tools ranged from spokeshaves, to drawknives, and regular knives. They included chisels, gouges, plane irons, axes and lathe tools. We sharpened them all. We used grinders, Japanese water stones, old fashioned Norton oil stones, hard Arkansas translucent oil stone, diamond stones, and a system using sand paper that makes tools "scary sharp."

I had fun. It was a class I'd never taught before, so I was uncertain, but hopeful that my students gained what they needed from it. My thought is that what folks may need most is the confidence to get started, and a bit of experience to help them make decisions as to what they need and what tools offer the best chance of them proceeding on their own. We gave them those things and they journeyed home with satchels of sharp tools.

Today I prepare for Monday's classes at the Clear Spring School, do some home maintenance and inlay the lids of boxes.

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

Friday, October 12, 2018

Sharpening 101

Today I have a class in the ESSA wood shop, in which students will sharpen planes, chisels and other things they want to keep sharp. To join the class you will need to call first thing, 479-253-5384  or show up early at ESSA and register.

Yesterday in the Clear Spring School wood shop, my kindergarten students made "super heroes."

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

The language of play

Yesterday I began the process of inlaying walnut boxes with spalted woods and patterned wood inlays I fabricated in the days before. In the wood shop at Clear Spring School today, I'll have the kindergarten students working on a project they proposed last week, making toy airplanes.

The following is the American Council of Pediatric's attempt to define play: 
The definition of play is elusive. However, there is a growing consensus that it is an activity that is intrinsically motivated, entails active engagement, and results in joyful discovery. Play is voluntary and often has no extrinsic goals; it is fun and often spontaneous. Children are often seen actively engaged in and passionately engrossed in play; this builds executive functioning skills and contributes to school readiness (bored children will not learn well). Play often creates an imaginative private reality, contains elements of make believe, and is nonliteral.
The American Council of Pediatrics stated this definition is true up to the age of two. I beg to differ. Play and the value of play applies to learning at all ages. What a dull and boring world this would be if all things were scripted for our distraction! Too many schools have become like that. My adult students know the value of play. Should it not be the basis for all education?

One small point. They state that play is non-literal. Have they not heard of wordplay? Even toddlers engage in it. Play is not actually nonliteral, it is transcendent of language. A language beyond language, so to speak.

The photo shows one of my adult students using the drill press to make wheels for toy cars. Even though I've made thousands of wheels myself, I address each one in a spirit of play, knowing the joy children will find in their use.

In my own wood shop, the spirit of play is at hand as I examine pieces of spalted wood for interesting visual properties that will make beautiful lids in walnut boxes. In fact, I think it is a sense of playfulness that attracts others to my work. I have seven students signed up for my sharpening class on Saturday at ESSA. Call 479-253-5384 if you want to join us.

I have been intrigued watching the students at Clear Spring School playing with our supersized Froebel Blocks. A couple days ago the middle school students had them arranged in a straight line so they could jump from one to another. Look again later and they're in a totally different arrangement.

Make, fix, craft and create...

Thursday, October 11, 2018

whittling in camp...

Yesterday I took our Swedish Sloyd knives and a freshly made supply of whittling sticks out to the campsite where our Clear Spring School elementary students were spending the night.  Whittling is a wonderful camp activity, and even though the students had practiced in the wood shop there was no reduction in enthusiasm for it.

For many of our students, this was a first time camping experience and it was a cold night. Each camping trip is different, and each becomes memorable. Last night will be remembered as a chilly night to be camping in the Ozarks.

In whittling we had four very minor injuries. Put a bandaid on and the child goes back to work.

Today in my wood shop I begin putting inlay in box lids, and preparing for an ESSA class on sharpening this coming Saturday. There are still openings for new students in that class. Go to to enroll, or call 479-253-5384.

Make, fix, and create...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

making inlay

I have a large order of boxes to fill prior to the Xmas season, so have begun making inlay. What I made yesterday will make lots of inlaid boxes. I also received a copy of American Woodworker Magazine in the mail yesterday that includes my tip about making a banjo mounted dust collector.

I hope my tip is useful to woodturners. You can see how it works here:

Today I will join my elementary school students at their campsite for an afternoon of whittling.

Make, fix and create.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

shark teeth.

Yesterday in the Clear Spring School wood shop, students continued practicing their whittling in advance of the fall camping trip. On Wednesday I will join them at the camp site to oversee whittling activities.

One of the students decided to make his whittled wood into shark teeth. They look more like bear teeth to me. But that led to all the students making shark tooth necklaces of their own. They assured me that the red marker they carefully applied to the sharp points, was just red color and not blood. The boys were proud to wear the things they had made.

Making necklaces provided an opportunity to introduce another tool, and for the students to gain some practice in its use. What tool was that? The picture is worth a thousand words.

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

Monday, October 08, 2018

A+ plus, plus

I had a great weekend of engagement with A+ Schools, and feel inspired once again to push for our local public schools to join A+. Eureka Springs is, after all, an arts community. Here in this town of about 2,500 we have well over 100 professional artists, and Eureka Springs is known all over the US as a community of the arts.

That should prescribe the course of our public education. Schools should be a reflection of all that's great and noble from their communities. Joining A+ should put things on a better track, as the arts, just like the hands, touch everything. No subject area is immune to enrichment by the various arts.

Today in the wood  shop at the Clear Spring School, we will resume study of whittling in preparation for the elementary school camping trip on Wednesday.

The photo shows some of my students from the weekend class. As part of the weekend fun we were introduced to the shim sham. Try it.

Can it be useful in the classroom? I'm convinced that the eight count facilitates a comfort with mathematics.

Make, fix, create

Sunday, October 07, 2018

A+ plus

 Yesterday I led two groups of about 12 A+ Fellows through training in the wood shop. The idea was to introduce them with woodworking with kids. Each made four projects including sharp sticks, toy cars, super heroes and Sloyd Trivets from Gustaf Larsson's book elementary Sloyd and Whittling. I think they had as much fun as I did, and just like my younger students at Clear Spring School we were all reluctant to quit work when the time came to stop and clean up.

Adults definitely clean better and more thoroughly than small children, so the ESSA woodworking studio is back in good shape, but for me picking up the tools I'd supplied from home and from the Clear Spring School.

As A+ has the job of restoring and reintegrating the arts into Arkansas Public Schools, the Fellows are an important group with whom to share. I thank them for coming, and for ESSA having played host.

Two groups of Fellows and the objects they have made are shown in the photos.

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

Saturday, October 06, 2018


Today I'll have A+ training at ESSA, being given a chance to share woodworking in the ESSA wood  shop with A+ Fellows. I am excited. Perhaps I'll have photos to share tomorrow. Yesterday my 5th and 6th grade students experimented in building laminated arches for bridge building. We will test the strength of them on Monday.

Friend and master planemaker Larry Williams has been interviewed by Charles Brock and featured on the Highland Woodworker. He is a fellow Arkansas Living Treasure.

Make, fix, and create.

Friday, October 05, 2018

building bridges

Today my 5th and 6th grade students will begin a study of bridge building by using thin pieces of white oak to build bridge like forms. We will start with a day of experimentation, and then when they return from camping the week after next, they will be divided into teams to build models.

Yesterday I began setting up for my class with Fellows from A+ Schools. I'll have a variety of centers set up, so they can build toy cars, whittle sticks, and make Sloyd trivets like those in the book Elementary Sloyd and Whittling by Gustaf Larsson. I 'm also planning to introduce Educational Sloyd and the philosophy and history behind it.

I also plan to show Scott Bultman's History of Kindergarten trailer that includes a part of my interview, and some video showing Clear Spring School students at work. All that will begin on Saturday morning.

An interesting thing about wood shop is that children who  may not have concentration in other subjects will be able to apply themselves to great lengths when the process is real and demands concentration to get the results they desire. If the ability to focus is brought into focus, we discover it to be a skill. Once learned, it can be applied beyond the area of initial interest.

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

Thursday, October 04, 2018

whittling again...

Yesterday in wood shop at the Clear Spring School, students whittled. This was practice for safe whittling while they go on the fall camping trip next week. We discussed the rules. We made lots of sharpened sticks. Students colored them with markers, and no band aids were needed.

Note the small block of wood held in the vise. The block gives extra support to the wood as it is carved. It also directs the child's energy and attention into a single spot and keeps the child from wandering around the wood shop with a knife.

Today I will be getting ready for 24 A+ Fellows to visit the wood shop at ESSA on Saturday to learn to teach woodworking to kids. ESSA is hosting the A+ Fall Fellows Retreat which begins on Friday and will wrap up on Sunday morning.

Much of what I share will be based on the theory of Educational Sloyd. The principles are: Start with the interests of the child. Move in increments from the easy to more difficult, from the known to the unknown, from the simple to the complex and from the concrete to the abstract.

Educational Sloyd also carries the recognition that "class" teaching is of little lasting effect. To really learn requires both hands-on experience and individualized instruction. Most administrators don't want to know about that last part. They want to cheap out.

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

Wednesday, October 03, 2018


The photo shows exquisitely crafted wooden models for the stainless steel manufactured pitchers in the background. I took the photo in the Helsinki Design Museum exhibit representing the work of Finnish designer Timo Sarpeneva.

In addition to the making of wooden things, wood is also useful for the design of other products. In Timo Sarpeneva's glass work, it was particularly interesting how molds for hot glass were made of wet wood and sharp wet sticks were used to form hollow spaces in hot glass sculptural forms.

Today our finished soccer goals were moved to the field next door to Clear Spring School that we acquired over the summer. Having a place for in town soccer (football) will be a great thing for the children of our community, and may also be a draw for new students to our school. For me to see the soccer goals in use offered a sense of pride.

Years ago, soccer first introduced to Eureka Springs and Carroll County through the Clear Spring School. We are poised for a rematch.

Today in the school wood shop, elementary school students will practice whittling in advance of their fall camping trip next week.

Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

toy cars and real boats...

Yesterday my students made toy flip cars, as shown. Decorating them is part of the fun.

In addition to teaching classes this week, I am also preparing for a class and presentation for A+ Schools to be held at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts on Saturday.

I have added a couple photos from our trip to the Baltic. One is a photo of me as tourist on the waterfront in Helsinki, and the other is of a classic Colin Archer designed sailboat, SV Vera Violetta, at dockside. All three of these photos will not show up on Facebook, so visit my blog, to see the full post.

Colin Archer boats are distinctive and recognizable as he had been the designer of the first Norwegian rescue ships like the one I had made a point of visiting in Oslo, RS Stavanger.

I had immediately recognized Vera Violetta as being a Colin Archer boat by the distinctive stem that it shares with RS Stavanger and other noted vessels of Archer design. Research upon returning home confirmed it. Vera Violetta was built in Norway, 1975 as a replica of Colin Archer's much beloved rescue boats and is owned by the Finnish Maritime Rescue Association. It is used for youth training.

The large vessels across the harbor beyond Vera Violetta are Helsinki's icebreakers. They are kept very busy during the winter months. The water between the islands of Helsinki, having a lower salinity than the Atlantic, freezes in winter.

Make, fix and create...

Monday, October 01, 2018

push blocks

I am working on an article proposal about making and using push blocks for use on the table saw, router table and jointer. I've made a few to show the editors as the start of the proposal process. Push blocks can be made in a variety of sizes and styles to fit the task at hand.

The push stick that probably came with your table saw is great for keeping your hands a foot or more from the blade, but not so good for keeping the wood safely under your control during the cut. The consequence of poor control can be an inaccurate cut, or a piece of wood that hurls back toward you at high speed.

Today in the wood shop at the Clear Spring School, my students will be learning to make their own envelopes, and will begin making wheels and toy cars.

Make, fix, and create.