Monday, October 31, 2022

How we fill our homes and with what.

The New York Times has an interesting article about the pandemic buying of cheap furniture to fill homes and the quick return of all that cheap stuff to fill our landfills. 'Fast Furniture is Cheap and Americans are Throwing it out in the Trash.' 

We have choices. We can make what we need while harvesting the benefits of our own growth. We can simply live without so much stuff and lean toward simplicity in our lives. And we can do both.

Today for me is a day of rest and reorganization, as I put away the various tools and materials used in my weekend class, and savor having watched my student's growth.

The photo shows a few of my veneered boxes made a few years back. Where they are now, I have no way of knowing.

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

Sunday, October 30, 2022

veneered boxes

I just finished a three day class at ESSA with my students making lovely veneered boxes. It was a great group of  students including old friends. It was a delightful way to spend a three day weekend. All the students ended up with first class, beautiful boxes and some parts to take home to make more.

My thanks to all and to ESSA for a good time.

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

Thursday, October 27, 2022

witnessing the growth of skill

In the early days of manual arts training, students were not to decorate their work, as the underlying skill in the use of tools and techniques in the development of form were to be emphasized. 

For the younger kids, however, the application of color to what they've made or assembled provides a sense of pride and agency. 

Some children will work on the development of patterns, while others emphasize broad and rich strokes appearing random to an adult mind. Each can spend a great bit of time, doing so. 

For the woodworking teacher, the coloring of the work allows those students who are a bit slower in the assembly process to catch up.

Learning must start with and be maintained by the interest of the child, and this is as much true for adults as it is in Kindergarten.

Yesterday in the wood shop we continued making flip cars and tops.

Next week is fall break at the Clear Spring School. The kids have told me that they want to make toy boats next.

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

Saturday, October 22, 2022

A table and two boxes

Yesterday and today I worked on two boxes and a table for articles in Popular Woodworking Magazine. I did the various set ups and operations, while editor Logan Wittmer took photos. It was challenging work for both of us. 

All the work will be finished in my own shop. The boxes are fitted out with a tray and compartments to hold ink, fountain pens and accessories.  

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

Friday, October 21, 2022

A way to support the arts

Our Eureka Springs School of the Arts is hosting it's annual fall fun raising Mad Hatter's Ball tonight. Many fine works of art are being sold at auction to benefit the school. You can view and bid through this link, knowing what you spend will support good work.

Among the items is a cabinet I made years ago that was donated by fellow founder Mary Springer. It was made of honey locust and oak in the 1990's.

This morning I meet editor Logan Wittmer from Popular Woodworking Magazine to work on two articles. I'll make a box and a table while he takes photos for the articles.

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

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Yesterday and today

Yesterday I visited with woodworking and trades students at North Arkansas Community College and did a book talk and signing in their library. The students were very attentive.

Today I taught our Clear Spring School kids how to make flip cars, a tradition at the Clear Spring School. The kids were very excited, and recognizing my age asked if it is OK to call me "Grandpa."

I think, being the age that I am, it's OK.

The photo is a silly one.

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Back to Kindergarten

I resumed my weekly  Kindergarten classes this morning and we made tops. I started the lesson with teaching the difference between clockwise and counter-clockwise, a bit of information essential to understanding the use of a hand crank drill for decorating the tops with colored pencil and markers. Turn the crank clockwise while holding the  chuck and the chuck tightens to hold the stem of the top. Turn the crank counter-clockwise while holding the chuck and the chuck loosens so the stem of the top can be removed. 

Is that too advanced a concept for Kindergarten students to understand? Not when it's called to their attention and they can observe it for themselves. If the concept is over their heads at this point in time, they'll have a chance for it to register later in life. 

It's too bad, however, that regular clocks are no longer in vogue. I offered my wrist watch for them to observe the difference between clockwise and counter-clockwise and the subject will come up again later in the year as my students make their own clocks. 

The hand crank drills mounted in the vise provided an opportunity for kids to work together... one turning the crank while the other colored their top. 

Each student made two tops.

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

Monday, October 10, 2022

Material symmetry

Temple Grandin has an article in the Atlantic in which she challenges educators to spend far less time on Algebra and far more time making things.

The essay is adapted from her new book, Visual Thinking: The Hidden Gifts of People Who Think in Pictures, Patterns, and Abstractions.

Folks rationalize teaching algebra in that it is considered useful in development of higher thinking skills. The hauntingly abstract equal sign in which formulas on one side are to "equal" formulas on the other need, for which kids see no direct application needs to be preceded by the concrete application of a thing I'm calling "material symmetry. "One side of an object frames its opposite side. Boat building is an example, as are many of the techniques I demonstrate in box making. If you've developed a half model of a boat, it conveys all the information required for shaping both sides with the centerline being the exact location of the equal sign. If you've performed a certain function on one side of a box, it's easy to do the same thing on the other. The same thing applies if you are making a pattern for a dress, or a pair of shoes that fit left and right feet.

Material symmetry exercised through the crafts is useful to children of all ages. It is a building block that's neglected in the teaching of math and is, of course, useful throughout life. The abstraction of Algebra is useful only on being promoted through an educational experience, never to be used again.

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

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

adjustable sled runners.

Fine Woodworking has published a brief on-line article about making adjustable miter gauge runners. Their advantage is that you can adjust them to a perfect fit, even when there are stark changes in humidity in your wood shop.

I'm now testing negative for covid-19 and when my energy returns I'll be happy to go back to normal life.

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