Thursday, June 02, 2022


Yesterday I went by the Clear Spring School as students were camping in our field. They had insisted they wanted to whittle, so Dustin Griffith had gone to the woodshop to get a few sloyd knives out for them to use. More and more students wanted to join in, so the number of whittlers grew and I brought out the whole set. Using the sloyd knives and pocket knives brought from home, many sharp sticks were made.

One of my students, Gabe, told me that he whittles nearly every day at home, and I can assure you that whittling is a meditative process that leads to a sharpened point, both in the wood and in the mind of the whittler. To whittle is not the simple minded activity one might assume. To whittle requires one to observe, hypothesize, and test one's hypotheses. As the hand becomes skilled, the knife becomes an extension of mind, and the powers of the mind are set free to explore the realities of life that surround us. We do that through the exploration and use of metaphor. Metaphor is a construction of mind built upon concrete experience. Without the concrete experience metaphor crumbles in abstraction when tested and measured against real life.

A friend suggested a book about chain carving and I ordered. Chain Carvers, Old Men Craft Meaning by Simon J. Bronner, having to do with the minds of old men, arrived in my mailbox on the same morning I was taking a wood carving friend to the clinic for tests. I passed it along for him to read during his recovery from surgery and will get it back later on. I'll read it myself and then pass it along to a friend who is busily crafting wooden chains in his retirement years.

I'm working on an article for Woodcarving Illustrated about children and whittling and so yesterday I took some good photos as the children brought their sticks, and minds to sharp points.

Make, fix and create...

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