Thursday, December 19, 2019

the character of wood

This week my Kindergarten students finished their toy trains and were excited to take them home.

Today I have a special adult box making class for the staff of the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. Tomorrow we begin moving the Clear Spring School wood studio to its new location.

Woodworking is a bit different from other means of artistic expression. If you cut a piece of steel too short, you can heat it, and hammer it, extending its length. Lacking a forge, you can widen your weld, simply filling in the unsightly gap.  If clay is too long or too short, it can be squished or stretched to fit.

Wood's not like that. Precision is required. Woodworkers have joked about a board stretcher. No such invention has been made. Then there's the other joke. "I cut this board twice, and it's still too short."

And so there are certain characteristics inherent in the wood. Those characteristics make it challenging. They also make it lovely. Its beauty. What more need I say?

Well, I might mention its usefulness. Today my students will be making boxes that I can assure you will find a useful place in life.

And is there yet one more thing I might say about the character of wood? Yes indeed. Like human beings, wood is narrative. It tells its own story. The life of the tree is written in the grain, along with its strength and its loveliness. As we work with wood, using it to tell our own stories, we are blending in a larger world of creation.

And is there yet one more thing I might say about the character of wood? I can tell you about the diverse properties of various species. They are hard or soft. They are weak or strong (comparatively). Woods come in diverse colors and are suited to a wide variety of best uses. To enter the world of wood can be to fall into a wonderful entrapment in which one may discover love for the natural world.

Make, fix, create, and adjust education so that others learn lifewise.

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