Monday, November 30, 2020

This week...

Today my 5th and 6th grade students began sanding some of their travel sized chess pieces. On Wednesday I have a one hour ESSA lecture scheduled. The link here will carry you to details.

I've been at work on a second draft of my book, Wisdom of our hands which offers advice to woodworkers, but also lays a reasonable course for civilization. In the course of digging through the blog which has been my way of keeping notes on the subject, I ran across this unpublished poem from Jerome Bruner that he sent me in 2011.

Let us honor if we must
The right hand's well constructed thrust,
Though note ye well, lest you be cleft,
By surprises kindled from the left.

I asked Dr. Bruner if his poem was about boxing, but it was actually inspired by a poem about death by W. H. Auden which if you think about it is exactly backwards from what happens in the ring.

Let us honor if we can
The vertical man,
Though we honor none
But the horizontal one

Dr. Bruner passed away in 2016 at the age of 101. It makes me realize how lucky I was to have communicated with such an illustrious figure in Psychology and to have been the first to publish (online) his poem. His poem will be included in the new book.

Make, fix and create.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

what we see, what we say...

I got an inquiry this morning about an operation in one of my books in which the reader asked for clarification in making a particular box. What you see in a photo doesn't necessarily convey all that you are required to know. In this case, reading would have helped. We may all be guilty of this. We see a photo and the mind fills in the blanks, in the assumption things are so simple we fully understand, when in fact we may not.

I encounter this all the time teaching. My students see something that looks easy, when in actual fact, there are things about the operation they may not understand without having first made their own mistakes.

For example, in making a Soma Cube Puzzle, one of my students had a puzzle piece break off, but it was because he had glued end grain to side grain, a thing I had explained in the video. When you orient the grain in two pieces side to side moving in the same direction, the glue joint is as strong as the wood itself. That's far from true if you glue pieces cross grained.

We were showing my 4th and 5th grade students the video of how to assemble their chessboard veneer patterns for the third time, and I had clearly stated that it would work out best if they paid attention to grain orientation, making the grain in the various pieces to align in the same direction. The reason I had suggested that was because if I had any errors in cutting pieces to length, those errors would not compound as the various pieces were put into place. Some got that message. Most did not.

We're becoming a see-it, do it world where complexities are not observed, nor are they fully understood.

There was a reason that Diesterweg, Froebel, Cygnaeus, and Salomon planned that learning progress from the concrete to the abstract and from the simple to the complex, and that was to build up within the student a knowledge base that would form a foundation for all other learning. Without that experiential base upon which to build our understanding, there's no common sense, whether we're talking about the political realm or how to address the Covid-19 pandemic.

So here we are. Scott Atlas said that seniors should not be prevented from celebrating "their last thanksgiving" with loved ones. Loved ones rush home, not dreaming that at their last stop for gas they picked up the virus that will kill Granny. 

In the meantime, our own lovely county is a hot spot, and I'm hoping all will exercise extreme caution. In Fayetteville, not more than 50 miles from here they've set up refrigerator trucks to handle the overflow of bodies. I hoped it would never come to this, but with the lack of caution, we have only our own communities to blame. The vaccine is on the horizon, developed by dedicated scientists. We will prevail over the disease, only if we've kept each other safe. 

How much more thankful we will be next year when, with those we love still with us, we celebrate Thanksgiving 2021 together.

Be safe. Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

new series, art lectures

ESSA has announced a new series of online art lectures. I'll be the first in the series on Dec. 2 and you can register here: 

Participation will be online, via Zoom but enrollment is limited. Sign up soon.

I want to thank those who responded to my post inviting you to subscribe to my youtube channel. The number of subscribers went from 990 to 1038, pushing beyond the 1000 required for direct streaming.

Make, fix and create.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Wall Art...

I want to thank my friend Bob Rokeby for honoring my work as "wall art." It reminds me that I need to make more of these wooden ties. Several of my friends have them. Seeing the one hung as art reminds me of a friend who passed away a few years back. 

Members of the arts community in Eureka Springs will remember Zolli Page. she had made a point of showing me that her husband's tie, purchased in a charity auction, had a special place on her wall, surrounded by art.

Make, fix, and create. The world becomes a better place.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

live streaming?

I've learned that I can live stream from my youtube channel, but in order to be allowed to do it I have to have 1,000 subscribers. I have 990, so just 10 more. Becoming a subscriber would give you the opportunity to be notified when I have new videos to present or live demonstrations to be performed.  To subscribe, please go to

The advantage for me is that it would allow me to livestream demonstrations to my students at the Clear Spring School directly to students at home or through the classroom TV. Just 10 more and we're there.

The subscribers on my youtube channel have been growing steadily, so no need to subscribe unless you are interested in the content.

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

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Culture of Craft

Architects discuss the relationship of craft to their work. Interesting. But the closer they're brought together, the better.

Make, fix, and create...

Friday, November 20, 2020

I'm trying to understand...

We know that masks and social distancing help prevent the spread of coronavirus. If common sense was not enough to bring one to this understanding, there's plenty of evidence from scientific studies to confirm that masks work to keep us safe and to keep safe those we love as well.

And yet, there's a strong ideological resistance among some against being required to wear masks. These folks want the economy to open up wide with no restrictions in place. And those same folks are active in state legislatures and in the courts to prevent governors, mayors and county administrators from having the power to require masks and social distancing. The callousness of these folks is beyond measure.

Can they not stand up for their rights and urge the safety of others at the same time? For example, they might ask that folks be allowed to choose whether or not to wear masks, while also admitting the stupidity and risk of refusing to do so? While advocating for freedom, could they not also advocate for responsibility exercised for the protection of each other?

We are braced for a Thanksgiving like no other. Had we shut down for an additional two weeks in the spring, as painful as that would have been, it would have saved well over 200,000 lives and would have allowed us to move at this point, much closer to normal life.

I know that many people I care about are planning to share Thanksgiving with family and friends who will be put at risk by each other. Scott Atlas says that folks should just go ahead and enjoy Thanksgiving because for some it may be their last. Are you the one who wants to make sure that someone has their last Thanksgiving? Or can we look forward to next year with the knowledge that you've done your part to keep others safe?

There's a bit of common sense that comes from hands-on learning... Today I'm working on cedar boxes in the wood shop. The box in the photo is one I sold the other day on Etsy.

Make, fix and create. 

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Every now and then

Every now and then I get inquiries from folks wondering where to buy my work. So here's a list.

  • The Jewel Box, 40 Spring St, Eureka Springs, AR 72632
  • Made in Eureka Springs Pop Up Holiday Store, 87 Spring St. Eureka Springs, AR 72632
  • Eurekan Art Studio and Shop, 150 N Main St, Eureka Springs, AR 72632 
  • Historic Arkansas Museum Store, 200 E 3rd St, Little Rock, AR 72201
  • Crystal Bridges Museum Store, 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, AR 72712   

In addition, I've loaded a number of pieces on my ETSY website. I've plenty of time to ship before the holidays.

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

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Some may remember...

 A man with strong ties to Eureka Springs was featured in an interview on CNN concerning the legitimacy of the 2020 election. Ben Hovland is the son of Barbara Harmony, a woman that many here knew from her work as an environmental activist and as a founder of the National Water Center here in Eureka Springs.

Ben Hovland is a elections specialist and attorney appointed by Donald Trump to oversee election security, his specialty. His interesting interview can be found here:

I knew Ben many years ago when he was just a very small child. He's grown and I'm sure Barbara who passed away this year would have been proud to have seen him on TV. I was.

Long before Barbara and I met, she had been an exchange student for a year in Sweden and had studied Sloyd.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, November 13, 2020

Making a chess board

This is a new video that I made today showing how to make a chessboard using walnut and maple tiles cut from solid wood. I've been making pieces for our 5th and 6th grade students to make their own chess boards. 

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

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Currents Magazine - Winter 2020

Currents Magazine, a quarterly publication by the Carroll County News came out with an article about me yesterday. It's a free publication available in our local community at a variety of locations.  It will be available later online. 

Online watch for the Winter 2020 edition. Or look for it when you go grocery shopping in Eureka Springs or Holiday Island. 

My thanks to staff writer Haley Schichtl for writing a nice piece.

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Crystal Bridges Gift Guide 2020

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has published a holiday gift guide with the featured objects being selected by museum store staff. My boxes are among the objects selected and you can find the Museum Store Gift Guide for 2020 here: 

Staff member Lee who chose my work for the guide said, "Talk about win-win. Not only are Doug Stowe wooden, hand-carved boxes handsome AND functional, but they will blend in beautifully in any decor. All your items will be so much happier nestled in a Doug Stowe box."

I am also taking part in a pop-up store in Eureka Springs that will open on Thursday and be open during the next two months. In the old location of Zarks, at 67 Spring St. My smaller boxes can be found this Christmas at The Jewel Box also on Spring St. and at Eurekan Art Co. on North Main. The boxes are unique, original and with a limited supply at all locations.

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


Early proponents of manual arts training, particularly of Educational Sloyd, and including John Dewey, believed that manual arts training was essential for all students, including those students from the upper class. These educators feared that a two-tier educational system would  perpetuate a two-tier society that would spell the end to democracy.

Woodrow Wilson before he became president of the US had been president of Princeton University and promoted the idea that we needed a small intellectual elite, and a much larger class or workers well trained to support them. So, as president, he signed the Smith-Hughes Act into law which set up separate manual training schools for that purpose, dividing the education of the hands from the education of the mind, making  folks less sensitive in both directions. The Smith-Hughes Act funded separate manual training schools and divided most schools along the lines of college prep and vocational training tracks.

One of the ideals proposed by Otto Salomon and others was that by all education building upon real experiences in manual arts, all students would gain a respect for the dignity of all labor. Wilson's approach turned labor into a commodity, to be bought and paid for while the pockets of the rich filled to bursting beyond any reasonable notion of real usefulness. The rich, not knowing the value of the working class, could not give a flip about their needs. So we have deep anger in America. And with Trump's refusal to concede the loss of the election, we witness the failure of education to provide deeper understanding. 

With a change of administrations, I hope we can again note and promote the value of manual arts training, not just to develop workers, but to develop a populace in which we show care for each other. 

The photo shows teachers in training at Salomon's teacher training academy in Nääs, Sweden. I want all to note the high proportion of women training to be teachers of woodworking sloyd.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Greta Thunberg Hears Your Excuses. She Is Not Impressed.

This is a great interview with Greta Thunberg, climate activist.

On my morning walk, with Rosie, I was thinking about a few things, largely in response to what I read. First off, changing our relationship with the environment and the damages human activities are causing to the global climate, thereby inflicting harm on every ecosystem and every populace, is never talked about in terms of conservation. 

We must learn to exercise thrift, even when the exercise of thrift curtails the flow of cash. Politicians want to buy our way out of the harm we inflict by investing in new stuff that's intended to allow us to consume planetary resources at an undiminished rate.

Secondly, woodworkers are sometimes thought of as being anti-environmental because we use wood as an alternative to plastic. And yet, I've always thought of myself as an environmentalist attempting to point out the beauty and value of our forests... thus hoping to awaken the urge to protect. My own efforts are certainly not enough but I've met many woodworkers who share my concerns.

Some of what's called for is a withdrawal when possible from our world's economy and a reinsertion of our resources into our local environments, asking those who can make from what grows here and there to make for us what we need. Or better yet, make for ourselves.

If you can't make it, perhaps you don't need it is a challenge none of us are capable of meeting yet. But Greta, in her clear way, uncluttered by the emotion we don't have time to indulge in, suggested that one of the most powerful tools we have comes in the comparison of ourselves with our neighbors. We need that level of competition. To be able to tell others, I only used this many kilowatts because I've chosen to limit my use of resources could help us to make real change. We live in an information age in which it is easy to be overwhelmed. But given the state of things, we need more information, not less. And this is particularly true with regard to our Covid-19 pandemic. We need more testing and more localized application of information. With that we could shut down only those parts of the economy that offer the greatest safe harbor for the deadly disease. With more localized information we would be better equipped to assess risk.

I was very pleased to have spent some time with Bill Coperthwaite a few years back, which I've mentioned in this earlier blog post. The photo is of Bill's 4 story yurt taken from the trail leading up to his home. Bill, a PhD from Harvard was drawn to buy his property by the potential of abundant free electric power generation. In the process, he discovered the power of his own body and opted for a simpler life.

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

Saturday, November 07, 2020


President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, 
"If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."
And so in that you can find the essence of our political divide. Race has been used as a means to divide us and for political parties to manipulate us and hold power. 

I'm reminded of a story from Zen. A man's wife had died and he offered money to the monks if they would recite the sutras in his wife's honor. But before he would give the money he asked for their guarantee that she would be the recipient of their blessings. The monks replied that when the sutras are recited all beings benefit. And so he man asked, can't you recite the sutras without benefitting that woman who lives across the street? And so, people often live narrow lives that hurt themselves and others at the same time.

At some point, I hope we can learn to see and feel the commonalities of humanity in each other regardless of religion and race. This is a day of joy for me. I know there are many who feel hurt by the outcome of this election. I hope we all can put our feet in other people's shoes and walk.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, November 06, 2020

Latvian TV

Jean and I were in Latvia just over two years ago and visited the KGB headquarters museum where they tortured and killed Latvian citizens in their effort to control the society. Latvia still has a large Russian populace, perhaps as many as 25% so Latvia has long been a target of Russian disinformation intended to disrupt their democracy and bring their small country back into the Russian State. 

The Latvians have a popular prime-time television program called "Theory of Lies" that attempts to debunk the popular lies coming from Russia. As we recover from this election, we need something similar in the US to counter the deliberate campaign of disinformation, the aim of which is to tear us apart and destroy our society. A translation of the program's website can be found here:

With the election nearly over let's find new ways to feel kindly toward each other.

Make, fix and create.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Lathe tool racks, full circle

Tool racks like I made for the Clear Spring School and then years later at ESSA will be featured in the December issue of American Woodturner. If you want an introduction to that project you can find it here:

There's kind of a funny story involved.

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

Monday, November 02, 2020

Rosie, wonder dog.

Rosie is my 75 lb. therapy dog, demonstrating the value of woodworking for keeping one's head on straight and one's nerves soothed. In case the video doesn't link on facebook, you can view here:

Make, fix and create. When enduring stressful times, get busy doing something real. It helps.

Sunday, November 01, 2020

The little dog toto moment

Do you remember that moment in the Wizard of Oz when little dog Toto pulled back the curtain to reveal the almighty wizard to be a short man quaking in his shiny shoes? With millions of voters going to the polls and millions casting their votes for the first time, and with the grace of god and with justice at our sides, we hope for the best. Take that mean man and his evil minions out of office and let us get on with our lives.

Forgive me for not writing much in my blog of late. Forgive me for paying less attention to simple things. With Covid-19 having been allowed loose, cases are rising dramatically everywhere that I know folks dear to me. And it has felt like I've been living and struggling to breathe under one of those vests they put on you when you're getting X-rays at the dentist's office. I know we are all trying to catch our breath at the end of such an outrageous time that's far from over yet. I'm bracing myself. There are the Russians trying to interfere as they did in the election of Donald Trump in 2016. There are Republicans working every angle to suppress the vote that they've known, if large, would not be in their favor. We have an Attorney General who will stop at nothing in his support of Trump and a Supreme Court that's lost all credibility.

My dog Rosie has been my saving grace. She makes me smile many times each day. She watches the woods for squirrels and brings branches in from the woods to chew and maintain a blissful state. To sit on the front porch with her reminds me that there are very many things right with the world.  And I remind myself that things can get better only if we act.

Do your work dear Toto, but we're not counting on just you. We vote.