Tuesday, April 30, 2019

gender in wood shop...

My assistant Curtis made an interesting observation today having to do with the projects students choose for themselves in wood shop. I try not to draw lines between genders. My classes are mixed gender. Both boys and girls are regarded and treated in the same manner to the best of my ability.

As Curtis observed, the girls are much more inclined to work on projects that display the relationship between things. The boys have a greater inclination to make individual things. For example, while one of my boys is making a toy airplane, a girl would be making a bedroom on a board, making a small bed and related objects and then people and pets that occupy the room. The girls may make whole houses, amusement parks, or similar settings derived from their observations. Boys have a lesser interest in that kind of project, and a greater interest in making individual objects that interest them.

Does this suggest that one kind of project is of less importance than another? I attempt to adhere to the principles of Educational Sloyd. The first principle is to start with the interests of the child. And with that in mind, boys and girls alike tell me that wood shop is a favorite thing on the Clear Spring School campus. When they ask "Do we have wood shop today?" and I say yes,  they reply, "Good."

The idea that men do woodworking and that women by assignment must do something else, is a useless and obsolete framework. But the idea that girls might make a different selection of project than boys within woodworking is one to accept and pay attention to. Boys and girls are not the same, and it's OK that we accept that and allow for diverse interests. In fact, we must.

We must also recognize the important role that Educational Sloyd played both in the history of Manual Arts training, and in the expansion of women's roles outside the home as professionals with competence equal to (or greater than) men in the teaching profession. A large proportion of the graduates of Otto Salomon's teacher training academy in Sweden were women. In the US, women helped establish manual arts training in public schools and took the lead in training both boys and girls in the manual arts. Throughout my years of writing the Wisdom of the Hands blog, I've highlighted women who've had major roles in furthering manual arts training.

With a first coat of finish applied to the top of the maple table, I'll return my attention to the table base.

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

Monday, April 29, 2019

let the kids win.

This morning I'm reading an interesting article on the charter school movement. https://www.governing.com/topics/education/gov-charter-schools-choice-devos-strike.html Most new things start with good intentions, but it makes a difference what the starting point is, and who's directing it. Put businessmen and politicians in charge of education, and they adopt a business model of education reform. They may want to do good, but their vision is blurred by who they are and the methods that they are accustomed to use. So it is with charters. Use statistics to drive the reform, carefully measuring profit and loss, and the kids lose.

I have a different view of education reform. Put the hands to work, and allow the children to do real things of benefit to themselves, their families and communities. Place less emphasis on measurable "achievement" and more on the children's character that's expressed in the real things they do. Make learning concrete rather than abstract so that children's inclination to get involved rather than sit passive is utilized in creating school atmospheres of engagement.

Businessmen and politicians scheme big. Children need us to think small. Small schools, small classes, doing real things. That's the truly big idea of the day. Whether it becomes the big idea for tomorrow is in your hands.

Make, fix and create. Encourage others to grow and learn likewise.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Planing white oak

  I am reading the new book, Crafting in the World, Materiality in the Making, with particular interest in the chapter by Suzanne Spencer-Wood concerning Educational Sloyd which makes reference to my articles and my assistance in guiding her thoughts.

Among academics, and particularly among those who in the early days of manual arts education, had hoped to use their supreme powers of intellect and linguistic persuasion to marginalize those who they thought worked with their hands alone, the idea they put forth was that hand work was a mindless exercise that did not belong in school. Rhythm of work was studied by Rudolphs J. Drillis in Latvia, and his work showed that a certain rhythm could make work less tiring and more efficient. So if someone, an academician, perhaps, was just watching without taking part in the exercise himself, the components of mindfulness required might be missed as the motions of the body may distract from the elements of mind that are less apparent to the uniformed or to those lacking experience in the real world.

As Crafting in the World shows, the manual arts are far from mindless. Works like Suzanne's are important in breaking through the prevailing mindset in academic life. The short video shows one of my students using a plane to surface wood. In viewing one might miss the aspects of mind involved.

Makali is watching the effects of the plane on wood. He is feeling through his hands and arms the amount of resistance as the plane's blade cuts. He observes the shavings that accumulate and removes them from the mouth of the plane when required. By gauging and comparing the amount of resistance as the plane passes over the surface of the wood  he learns the direction of wood grain.  He may shift the orientation of his labor to get better results. By observing the surface of the wood, he is guided in the continuation of his work. He may make a decision, based on either the amount of energy he has left, in his body or on the achievement of his desired effect, that he's done enough and is ready to move on to the next step. In the first place, it was something he wanted to do. That, and the persistence through his labor involves will, the primary element of mind, that should be the outcome of successful schooling. (Though it often is not as we as a society seem to prefer cultivating mindless consumers of information over the makers of real things.)

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

Saturday, April 27, 2019

the useful object

On Friday I planned a project with my Kindergarten students that was a bit of a stretch with regard to their interests. They had other ideas in mind.

I believe that one of the problems in the art world, and among artists is the idea that the arts are to be used only as adornment of walls, or pedestals or of bodies, and not to be useful in a more pedestrian fashion. In making that decision about art, craft is assigned a lower position in a hierarchy of values, uselessness is celebrated, and the range of beautiful objects that inhabit our lives is diminished. Artists, choosing to only make "art" miss the opportunity that arises from making the whole universe of myriad things that inhabit human life. Need a spatula? Would you rather have a plastic one from Dollar General, or one you've beautifully crafted yourself? For most of us, that would be a stretch, but headed perhaps, in the right direction.

In grade school, art is made to be stuck on refrigerators with magnets. In high school, projects are rarely kept. In shop classes where useful things were once made (most of those classes are no more) things were made with little attention to their originality or artistic merit.

The project I planned for my Kindergarten students to make was inspired by my interest in Educational Sloyd. In Sloyd, objects were made for use in the home and to be of use by those who enabled and encouraged the children to be in school. So in my Kindergarten woodworking class on Friday we made earring holders. If the mother doesn't need one, a sister or grandmother might. And so the useful object, beautifully crafted reigns supreme. Who say's it's not art? And I was relieved that the students enjoyed their work.

Yesterday in the mail, I received copies of a new book in which my research and writings about Sloyd play an important part. Suzanne Spencer-Wood, had contacted me a couple years back with regard to the role that gender differentiation played in Educational Sloyd. Her initial assumption was that shop classes were segregated along grip gender lines, and while it is absolutely true that boys were assigned to woodworking classes and girls to textile arts, following the divide that had long been established, I pointed out the important role that Educational Sloyd played in beginning to erase the barriers that women faced in education. I believe her chapter on Sloyd in this book was enriched by my insistence that Educational Sloyd was on the cutting edge of removing barriers, not of keeping them in place.

At Otto Salomon's Sloyd training school in Sweden, a simple review of photographic evidence shows the large number of women engaged in teaching Educational Sloyd. I hope others will read her book to gain greater insight into that portion of the history of manual arts training. The title is Crafting in the World, Materiality in the Making, Claire Burke and Suzanne M. Spencer-Wood, editors.

Make, fix, grow and create.

Friday, April 26, 2019

maker's market...

Clear Spring School held an elementary school maker's market at which they sold things they'd made to parents, teachers and each other. I bought a few things, including a bead ball, a book mark, a paper cat and a rocket propelled wooden boat.

It was a fun event and all students sold a few of the interesting things they made.

Make, fix grow and create...

Thursday, April 25, 2019

planing, rasping and sanding.

Making tiny benches at school has become of interest for some of my youngest kids. The benches, made from 6/4 white oak with a natural edge, require hand planing and sanding. The wood took fifty years to grow and three years to air dry. I am unwilling to supply such fine wood to students if they are unwilling to apply the effort required. Hurry is not allowed.

Today at Clear Spring School, the students are having a market in which they are going to sell things they have made to each other and to parents. Real money is not required.

Make, fix and create.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The power to fix

Two nights ago my dog knocked into my glasses and the frame separated right at the bridge between the two lenses. The glasses being made of plastic and about 4 years old, had become brittle and snapped with ease.

I glued them with epoxy and they lasted only one day before breaking again. My new attempted fix is to glue them with epoxy and then wrap the bridge with nylon string with it coated by 5 minute epoxy, building up a stronger bridge. With luck they will last until they can be replaced.

Without personal ingenuity, and access to nylon string and epoxy, and due to my living a long way from one day new glasses suppliers, I would suffer the loss of perfect sight for a week or longer.

Use your ingenuity. Cultivate your power to fix. The rewards are enormous. There's satisfaction in it.

Make, fix, and create.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

the joy of making...

The students at Clear Spring School grades 1 through 6 are making things to see at their own market. Some have been working on things in wood shop. Many have been working on products at home so their parents are involved. It's a learning process.

They visited the local farmer's market this week to help them plan the event. They'll be mostly selling to family and friends and to each other. Yesterday some of my students began work on the lathe, not to sell but to practice and learn.

Yesterday my Kindergarten students made pencil holders. One said, "I plan to keep this on my shelf with my collection." That describes how the things my students have made are welcomed into their homes.

The editing of my woodworking with kids book was delayed by a staffing change at Spring House Press, but is about to resume. Today I will review files and make certain they are properly placed in relation to the table of contents. I will also oil boxes and resume sanding on the large maple plank.

Make, fix, grow and create...

Friday, April 19, 2019

more wood and stone...

The photo shows the inside of the loft of the large stone barn at Nääs, Sweden where I visited a few years back. The photo is fuzzy due to being taken in near darkness, but it shows the kinds of framing that one might find hidden in the remaining roof of the Cathedral of Notre Dame. For a craftsman to visit such places is a gift. This barn, all stone on the outside, was built in the 1700's.

The dairy barn that once served the castle at Nääs and then Otto Salomon's school for Sloyd is now a stable for horses, and very few would know of the wonders above. You would have to be a laborer or a sneak to find it.

John Ruskin bridged the terrain that lay between the designer and user, the economics of supply and demand by pointing out the effects of building on the builder... the common man at the heart of all things.  The following is by English professor and legal scholar John Matteson in a 2002 essay, "Constructing Ethics and the Ethics of Construction."
...we tend to think principally in terms of the relationship between producer and consumer, and we assume this to be the most significant relationship in any activity related to commerce. Our ethics unconsciously orient themselves around the relationship between supply and demand.

Ruskin is valuable to us because he did not share these assumptions. He rejected the idea that buying and selling lay at the heart of the ethics of architecture. He focused not on production for the purpose of consumption, but on the moral effect of the production upon the producer. He required above all that the process of building should, in all ways possible, enlist the emotion, the imagination, and the intellect of the laborer.
As they begin the process of saving the Notre Dame Cathedral, perhaps they should think less about what it will cost or what it will look like when fixed and more about how the process of restoration can transform and restore individuals and society. All the great monuments of architectural genius were built by common folk whose contributions should be held in the very highest regard. Plans should be cast to have the maximum developmental impact on the workmen and women, knowing that craftsmanship (not religion) is the foundation of ethical culture.

Make, fix, grow and create...

Thursday, April 18, 2019


I have always found stones that interest me, and to have a use for them makes them of even greater value. These are embedded in clear epoxy resin in a recess in the top surface of a table top.  The recess was formed then a limb was lost and decay was introduced in the living tree. Bark and new wood grew over.

I carried these common stones home from Maine after teaching at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. There are billions more like them on beaches throughout the northeast and along lakes and rivers around the world.

The clear resin is intended to make them look as though they are under water, with the exception of one that barely breaks the surface.

The duct tape forms a dam to keep the epoxy from leaking out low spots on the side. The epoxy will be planed flush with the surrounding wood, and the areas of wood that have been stained with overflow will be sanded.

As suggested by Bob Rokeby and by reading online, I found my heat gun to be useful in making bubbles rise to the surface of the layers of epoxy.  I applied the epoxy in 5 layers, mixing only 4 ounces at a time and allowing each layer to set before the next was applied. The stones were put in place resting on layer three and then covered in the next two.

Wood and stone are the materials of civilization. Man shapes them. They, in turn, shape man.

Make. fix, grow and create.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

with roof and spire

The photo shows Notre Dame Cathedral in 2014 with roof and spire. It will take years for it to be restored. I am thankful that enough of it remains that it can be rebuilt.

The hands shape human culture. The hands have the capacity to reshape civilization. I hope visitors to Paris will find an army of young men and women of all racial and ethnic backgrounds with saws and planes launched into the process of restoration. You cannot make old wood, but you can make new craftsmen and is that not the point of a cathedral? Who will worship there if you've not first shaped the spirit? The hands do that through our quest for useful beauty.

My sixth, 7th, and 8th grade students have been hand planing white oak, so they should be aware of the difficulty of building a cathedral in the 11th century with hand tools alone.

This is not the first cathedral damaged by fire, so there are folks around from the last time that can help.


According to John David, a master mason from the UK who had been involved in a cathedral renovation there, "What I've heard a number of times today is people saying 'we can't do this anymore, we haven't got the craftspeople to do it.' We have. We have plenty, and we have plenty of people who can train others."

Make, fix, grow and create. Provide for others to learn likewise.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

of wood and stone and man

Yesterday was a sad day. We watched as Notre Dame Cathedral burned. I think of the hands that worked on the place through generations. It was said that the roof alone required 14,000 trees, a whole forest of wood, and then we remind ourselves that each piece was planed and shaped and fitted by hand, and that with that shaping by hand and mind, folks wrestled with wondering. Who am I, why am I here, how do I make the best of my life, and how do I assure the best for my loved ones and my community. The use of the hands in crafting useful beauty brought answers to many questions. Just as it does today.

In the coming restoration of Notre Dame, there will be the promise of work, and growth and development of new generations. That is my own reassurance in the aftermath of a tragic day.

Make, fix, grow and create.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

at this point in box class

We are ready for day three of a jewelry box making class at ESSA, and we have a long day ahead of us, making dividers, fitting hinges, completing the drawers, attaching bases, and applying finish. Yesterday we cut the lids from the bodies of the boxes so you can actually open them. I had about twenty folks during a rainstorm yesterday watch my demonstrations on cutting miters and cutting the lid off a box. The photo shows one of my students cutting the lid from her box.

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

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Filling a void...

I am preparing to fill a void in wood using epoxy where a branch had died and surrounding wood had grown over. Researching on the web I learned that air trapped in the wood can rise through the epoxy forming bubbles. To solve this problem I've used polyurethane to seal the inside surfaces of the void, and after the polyurethane has had a few days to dry fully, I can begin adding the epoxy 3 ounces or so at a time, gradually filling the void level to the surface of the surrounding wood. It's experimental.  My fingers are crossed.

I have been waking up in the middle of the night wondering how to solve this problem. My next question has to do with whether or not to add objects to the void or leave it so that you can peer clearly into the depths. No, I will not put LED lighting inside. Some craftsmen might be inclined to add colorants or powdered turquoise. I prefer a more natural look and the opportunity to look within.

Tomorrow I start my Jewelry Box class at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts.

Make, fix, grow and create. Our culture depend upon it.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

if this then that, next

I received an email request for help from a former box making student. He was attempting to use barbed hinges as I had shown him in class, but had failed to fully understand the process. It is common when dealing with complex things to not get every point. And it is essential that we not just do what we think we've been told (even if we've taken notes), without also using our powers of observation and trusting what we can see for ourselves. We do learn more by observing and thinking than we can by just doing what we think we've been told.

In my own case, having had no one to teach box making to me, I can assure you that the powers of observation are essential and should not be overridden by words untested.

My student claimed also to be having trouble getting corners to all come together in a mitered box. I developed this simple check list to help in his observation.
  1. The angle of the saw must be set accurately at 45 degrees. 
  2. One must use a sled and stop block to assure that your parts are accurately cut. 
  3. The top panel and bottom must be accurately cut to length and width. This requires close observation, and when I demonstrate in class, students don't often see exactly what I see.
  4. Grooves in the top panel must be cut to the exact depth. 
  5. If everything goes together right in trial assembly but then seems to drift off after you’ve set the box aside to dry (that shouldn’t happen with rubber bands or clamps in place), then use corner clamps as a routine part of your operation. 
You can make your own using my methods shown in  Fine Woodworking, or buy nicely made ones from Lee Valley.

You can sometimes fix boxes (if they have no metal in them) by putting a drop or two of water in the offending joint and putting it in the microwave for a minute or so, just long enough to heat the glue at the offending joint. Quickly use corner clamps to pull the offending joint into proper position. But generally, I believe that if a joint will not pull tight, or won’t stay tight, there’s some real and direct reason for it and 9 times out of ten with my students, the culprit is a bottom or lid that’s cut too long or too wide or with grooves not as deep as the grooves cut into the sides.

Yesterday a very good friend from Marc Adams School of Woodworking passed away from cancer. Zane Powell had been one of my assistants there for many years. He had been with the school since it started. He had a wonderful sense of humor and had great patience for helping individual students better understand what I was attempting to teach. I will miss him, and I mourn  his passing with all those whose lives he had touched.

Make, fix, grow and create. Pass along what you know how to do. Share with others.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Jewelry box making at ESSA

I have a class at ESSA this weekend, starting on Friday making jewelry boxes complete with drawers and dividers. It's a great chance to learn and end up with a gift for yourself or a friend.

An advertisement that shows up on my iPad when I study languages (Norwegian, Swedish and Spanish) is for getting your bachelor's degree in education on line. I marvel that they would come up with such a thing. Can you learn what it takes to be a teacher and be worthy of a degree without all the practice required? It might be the perfect way for teacher's classroom assistants to obtain required credentials to teach, but I can assure you that teaching requires much more than what you can get from a book or from online sources. An ideal situation might be to put young aspiring teachers in the classroom under the guidance of trained teachers, and then allow them to fulfill at least a portion of their credential requirements through online classes concurrent with their time in real classrooms with read students.

A friend of mine told me yesterday that he did not know how much good teachers were worth or how much time they spent making sure their kids were brought to a level of success. Then he married one. Needless to say, he now has a more realistic view of things. Teachers wake up with their students on their minds, and go to bed at night dreaming about the same subject: How to help their students succeed.

In the meantime, American politicians attempt to score points among voters by disparaging teachers and the teaching profession. Do not let them get away with that.

The jewelry box is made of white oak and basswood that's been textured and painted with milk paints. This morning I woke up remembering to order hinges for this class and called for expedited shipping so they will arrive in time.

Make, fix and create.

Monday, April 08, 2019

should Kindergartens be readied for kids?

Deborah Stipek at Stanford asked the question in a recent article, Should Children Be Ready for Kindergarten — Or Should Kindergarten Be Ready for Children? https://medium.com/@DREMEmath/should-children-be-ready-for-kindergarten-or-should-kindergarten-be-ready-for-children-76cd755e9ff9

Kindergarten is not what it once was. Now the common kindergarten curriculum is almost purely (and impurely) for the purpose of getting students ready for reading and math. All the other things we were to have learned in Froebel's Kindergarten have been brushed aside, as they have been in most other forms of public education. The question that concerns educational administrators, and politicians most, is "readiness to learn." Ready to learn what? It can be observed by even the most simple minds, that children are hard wired from birth to learn. Adults with their observational wits about them would envy the pace at which children learn. Try 2nd or third languages, for example. The administrative and political aims for kindergarten are distorted in comparison to what Kindergarten once was. That children are being bent out of shape by schooling is also a no-brainer.

When I attended an educational conference in Helsinki in 2008, I grew bored with the sociological discussions of the impact of various methods of manual arts training. I took a short break down the hall where I found a wood shop occupied by very busy Kindergarten teachers. They were earning their masters of Education degrees and to do so, required learning to teach woodworking (among other crafts) to their kids. Can it be any wonder then that Finland would beat the pants off the US in the international PISA testing?

There is no easy to measure cause and effect relationship between school wood shop and PISA test scores. To claim that I would be out on a limb. But my visit to the University of Helsinki wood shop helped illustrate a major difference between education in Finland and the US. In the US, we push reading and math at earlier ages, while in Finland's schools they begin reading at age 8 and far surpass American readers in 30% less time.

And so while all kids are "ready to learn," not all children are ready to read. Reading requires development that best occurs on the timing within the child. If we were to follow the Finnish model, children would be developing skills, character and intelligence while working to create beautiful and useful things to serve family and community through their own hands, years before they picked up a book in school.

Froebel's gift number 2 was so closely associated with the life of Freidrich Froebel, that its form consisting of a sphere, a cylinder and a cube form the marker at his grave. You'll notice that I've placed my own photo of gift number 2 upside down in protest to what Kindergarten has become. Froebel would roll over in his grave out of concern for what they've done to his child.

Make, fix and create. Be brave and confident in demanding change.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

a lucky balance

Yesterday I sanded a large table top and then because of limited space in my small shop, used that table top as a platform to apply Danish oil to boxes. I was reminded of my early days. Despite having a large number of tourists, Eureka Springs is a limited market. Tourists only rarely carry home furniture. And there are not enough residents in this small town to buy boxes. So making boxes to sell tourists and to export to galleries and furniture to sell locals within the state provided a balance that enabled me to survive as a craftsman. That's not an easy thing in small town America. These days it's not easy in big cities either.

Even my children in school know that most of the things that fill their homes and inhabit their lives are from China and are not made to last. In fact, you can go to  any Walmart and find it chock full of things that they want you to buy, but that will be discarded in landfills or floating in our oceans in five years or less.

We could cut out the middle man and give people in our own communities the opportunity to create the things we need. We would save on packaging and transportation and give people the chance to grow in character and intelligence. We would also provide employment that would be incredibly rewarding.

The things that have been made by people we care about are of greater value than the things that were made carelessly by others and that are detrimental to the environment.


Make, fix and create...

Saturday, April 06, 2019

A Kindergarten demonstration project

The interesting thing about higher education is that the only forms of intelligence that are promoted though the system to its highest levels are academics and one of the great shortcomings is the exclusion of the training of the hands and body on an equal footing with the mind alone.

I find it interesting still that Teacher's College in New York, a sister of Columbia University, was founded to teach teachers to teach the manual arts. The recognition was there then that the hands and mind were integral to the development of character and intellect. https://wisdomofhands.blogspot.com/2009/11/visit-to-teachers-college-columbia.html And surely trained hands are still essential to the of training minds, unless you are aiming toward perpetuating useless intellectual foolishness and selfish elitism.

Right across the street from Columbia University and just a few blocks from Teachers College, Union Seminary and Barnard you'll find St. John the Divine Cathedral, a wonderful place left unfinished. Imagine a program in which students were allowed to train their hands and minds in harmony and at the same time. It's a shame the administrative minds in the neighborhood surrounding St. John the Divine cannot stretch that far.

Early proponents of manual arts understood that to teach all to create useful and beautiful objects was an important component in democracy, as it helped to sustain the shared sense of the dignity of human labor. What would happen if students of one of the world's great universities were to enter their intellectual engagements reinforced and illuminated through the shared framework of humanity that only the hands can provide?

Yesterday in wood shop my Kindergarten students made a "demonstration" project based on Froebel's Kindergarten gift number 2. My instruction was to follow as follows. See one, do one, teach one. They enjoyed the project, which consisted of a stand and a cylinder hanging on a string. A dowel can be used to set the cylinder in motion and as it spins the shape blurs into a spherical form. If you color the ends of the cylinder, the colors blend and merge into new colors just as they would if mixed on a pallet. It will be a lovely thing for them to be able to demonstrate to family and friends.

One of my first grade boys asked his grandmother what she used to make in wood shop. She explained that she didn't have wood shop when she was his age. He said, "I'm so sorry."

Make, fix, grow and create...

Friday, April 05, 2019

building a culture of the arts.

The past few days I've had conversations with friends centered on an interesting subject. One conversation was with an artist who asked about the difficulties of selling our work. The other was with one of my oldest and dearest friends who had in my early years as a craftsman, kept me busy making display cabinets for his shop and furniture for his home. He noted that through the years, he had shown my work to many friends and bragged about its features, thinking that they too, would want to buy my work. He asked if I had any thoughts about why they did not.

I can tell you who buys hand crafted work (generally) and why they do. In my own case, most of my work has been sold to other artists, people who know what it takes to make work, and know the reasons for it. As we became a nation where the makers are an exception, and not prevalent in our communities, the value of the hand-crafted, artist designed product is only rarely known  deeply enough to guide behavior. Potential customers can appreciate the values in the work when those features are pointed out to them, but its's so much easier for them to buy manufactured stuff  than to invest art, which in most cases they do not fully understand.

We have a problem. We have neglected the building of a base of art buyers by failing to offer art making as a primary goal in education. By failing to engage students in the making of beautiful and useful things, we've failed to impart the character required to build communities in which artists are nourished and encouraged in further growth.

We can change that, but it will take time. We start by becoming makers, and then use whatever tools we have  at our disposal to encourage others to make.

Make, fix, grow and create.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

it's not done til it's pretty.

The rest of the class is gone for the day, but one girl remains. She wanted to make an airplane because she found a plastic propeller, so  after two days of woodshop she wants to take it home, but not before the coloring is complete. Can you and I both understand that? When we are doing real things, they matter.

I was listening to the radio as I went to and from school this morning. They told of an organization trying to get young people to enter the job market. Work has become a hard sell. Students have become conditioned to doing nothing. They live in their parent's basements, and are disillusioned and disengaged. I place this at the foot of learning as it is practiced in American education.

Give children a chance at real learning! The inclination for it is hardwired in every human being. One word can change the whole of modern schooling. The word is industriousness and it's a natural part of being a human being. It's sad that it has been conditioned out of our student body by requiring our children to sit still and to do nothing but empty exercises.

There is a great quote in Time Magazine this week from Peter Tabichi, science teacher in Nairobi who won the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize on March 24. He stated his philosophy as, "You have to do more and talk less." Along with that goes encouraging your students to be of value to their families and their communities.

Today I'll be planing and sanding the large maple table top.

Make, fix and create... Provide for others to learn likewise.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

silver maple

The photo shows the large silver maple table top being lifted for loading into Bill Hinson's truck. Bill and his daughter Suzanne went with me on an adventure to 2nd life woods to pick it up and it's now in my shop ready for work. I've left it long to be trimmed to final size after I've made decisions about how the irregular shape will be best fit my customer's seating needs. You will see more of this table top in the coming months. It is heavy enough that I can barely lift one end.

There is an important balance to be found in the making of useful and beautiful things. If an object is not beautiful and well-crafted, meeting one's aesthetic considerations in how it looks and feels, it will likely not be treated with care or respect and will not survive. If an object is not useful, we may not find ways to adopt it into our lives. And then there is this:
"Things men have made with wakened hands, and put soft life into are awake through years with transferred touch, and go on glowing for long years.
And for this reason, some old things are lovely warm still with the life of forgotten men who made them." -- D.H. Lawrence
The question then, is  "What are wakened hands, and how do we wake them up?"

Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

a table top.

This afternoon I pick up a large maple slab, natural edged on both sides to make a dining table. It's size and weight will make it a challenge to lift and live with in my shop as I shape the ends and plane and sand the surfaces to perfection.

Yesterday in wood shop at the Clear Spring School, my students worked on a variety of projects including more of the phone holders I'd made with my Kindergarten class on Friday.

Since my classes contain students of varying skill and maturity, requiring all students to do exactly the same thing tends to be impractical. The students love the opportunity to make what they want, limited only be the available materials.

Skills of mind and skills of hand are not different things, as each refreshes and strengthens the other.

Make, fix and create.

Monday, April 01, 2019

a successful event...

Yesterday, adults and children got a chance to make things at ESSA. Woodturners from Stateline Woodturning Association kept the turning room very busy. Guests were allowed to try their hands at blacksmithing, wood carving, jewelry crafting, making hand carved and painted gnomes, and making sloyd trivets from Gustaf Larsson's book Elementary Sloyd and Whittling.

Hands On ESSA was a fundraising event, so the cash jars filled, and postcards designed by area artists were sold to the highest bidders. What we have here is a facility built in service to the arts that is being loved.

Make, fix and create... encourage others to learn likewise.