Sunday, June 30, 2019

play in the wood shop

Yesterday I got parts of the maple table base finished and trial assembled. The coopered leg sections must be firmly fitted to the white oak stretcher in order to keep the table from wiggling as the 3 inch thick top weighs nearly 200 lbs. While the shape of the legs give some resistance to moving, that I've created interlocking joints and will bolt the legs to the stretcher will assure stable support. The photo shows the table base upside down on the work bench during a trial fit.

All of this is a form of play. I've never done anything exactly like this before in my life which is what makes it fun and engaging. You'll notice the texturing on the leg sections. This was done by making sweeping gestures across the face of the wood with an angle grinder.

All play involves risk. You know you can make mistakes. And because there's risk, you give it your full attention. And because you give it your full attention, you may find yourself relieved of some of the other burdens of life.

Woodworking philosopher David Pye said that there are two forms of craftsmanship. Craftsmanship of certainty is where all things are so well set up that there are no risks of failure, and that little or no human attention is required in the delivery of endless mountains of stuff. Craftsmanship of risk requires human attention. Out of insecurity, and unwillingness to embrace play, we've surrounded ourselves with mountains of meaningless stuff in which very little actual human attention was required in the making of it. We can value one form of craftsmanship or the other. One form embraces our humanity. The other exhibits love for the machine and fear of each other.  What do I mean? "Oh, what will they think of me? Have I gotten the best deal?"

Perhaps we should choose love for each other.

At the Clear Spring School, students are attending summer art camp. The large Froebel blocks are stacked to the side because boys against the girls brought bickering in their play. They will be released from sequester when the children are better prepared for their cooperative use. I'll suggest that they be released one type of block at a time, just as they were introduced in the first place.

Make, fix, and create.

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