Tuesday, August 23, 2016


I wanted a rosette window in my boxes designed as small chapels of wood, so tried turning plexiglass round on the lathe to fit. After two attempts with it breaking each time, I changed course and used the scroll saw to cut it round. Next, I used the scroll saw free hand to make meandering cuts so that one side of the plexiglass circle can be mounted to each of the double doors. In the photo above, you can see a second door in the background, still covered by the paper used to mark the round shape, and the center line where the doors fit to each other.

This should add overall interest in the box. First, the viewer will be made curious about the objects viewed inside, and secondly, the viewer will be made curious about the craftsmanship involved in cutting glass (or even plexiglass) to such a close meandering fit.

Some may jump to the conclusion that computer technologies were involved. They were not.

Make, fix, create, and encourage others to learn likewise.

Monday, August 22, 2016


I have been bending wood for tiny bent wood boxes as shown in the image at left, cutting blocks to finish Froebel block sets number 3 and 4, and working on my special collection boxes I call "the choiring of trees." More photos of those may come later in the day.

There are of course dangers to a society in which all folks are busy crafting beautiful and useful things. First, it would disrupt the status quo. We would be far less busy as consumers, and all the big stores would take a hit on their bottom lines. And this would be particularly true for those companies making and selling useless stuff.

The upside is that when people craft the objects that inhabit their own lives, they learn so much about themselves in the process, that we would be far more forgiving, nurturing and caring for each other. Who can be involved in crafting beauty, and making things to serve others, without learning other unintended things? Consider this:
"We are always in these days endeavoring to separate intellect and manual labor; we want one man to be always thinking, and another to be always working, and we call one a gentleman, and the other an operative; whereas the workman ought often to be thinking, and the thinker often to be working, and both should be gentlemen in the best sense. As it is, we make both ungentle, the one envying, the other despising, his brother; and the mass of society is made up of morbid thinkers and miserable workers. -- John Ruskin"
And this:
"The most colossal improvement which recent years have seen in secondary education lies in the introduction of manual training schools; not because they will give us a people more handy and practical for domestic life and better skilled in trades, but because they will give us citizens with an entirely different intellectual fiber.

"Laboratory work and shop work engender a habit of observation. They confer precision; because, if you are doing a thing, you must do it definitely right or definitely wrong. They give honesty; for, when you express yourself by making things, and not by using words, it becomes impossible to dissimulate your vagueness or ignorance by ambiguity. They beget a habit of self-reliance, they keep the interest and attention always cheerfully engaged, and reduce the teacher's disciplinary functions to a minimum" -- William James
 Make, fix, create, and use your example to inspire others to learn likewise.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

the most difficult point

Kim Brand, Director of 1st Maker Space, sent a link to an article describing the need for woodworking in schools. The Future of Woodshop. It is good to see programs on the rise, and to see educational policy makers beginning to understand the necessity of manual arts training. This video on the same school is a heart warming affair.

One of the appeals of woodworking in schools is that it allows children to do real things, which in turn reflects one of the principles suggested by an associate of Froebel, Adolph Diesterweg. He had proposed along the lines of Pestalozzi that education should proceed from the "concrete to the abstract." Education for most students has become mired in pretense and abstraction when kids really need to be doing real things that help to shape them in character as well as in intellect.

Diesterweg proposed: "First educate men, before worrying about their professional training or class... the proletarian and the peasant should both be educated to become human beings." So one mistake often made in manual arts training involves the question "who should receive it?"

Yes manual arts training is extremely important for those students who are not going to college. But YES, it is also a necessity for those who are destined for academic pursuits. That may be the most difficult point for me to get across. Regardless of where you are going in life, your life and the lives of those around you will benefit from your efforts to create useful beauty.

I spent the day yesterday cutting the dense thicket of small trees that has grown up on our drive. Today,  in the wood shop I'll continue bending wood to make tiny boxes and work on a series of boxes that contain samples of 28 Arkansas woods.

The image above is of Froebel's gift number 7 variant with right triangles and unequal sides. The triangles are a bit like the molecules in minerology in that various types fit each other in distinct ways and each set calls forth a differing set of forms. Compare the photo above with photos in the last two posts.

Make, fix, create, and extend to all others an understanding of the need to learn likewise.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Froebel's gift number 7 was offered in several variations. And each gave the child the lovely opportunity to begin drawing with concrete forms. The tablets in various triangular shapes and in a square form could be arranged in forms reminiscent to those Froebel had witnessed both in nature and through his time working in the mineralogical laboratory of Christian Samuel Weiss.

It would make sense from a mineralogical standpoint to see how various shapes of triangle might lead to various types of form, as each type does lend itself to distinctive designs. The image above shows the use of equilateral triangles, and yesterday's post shows the use of acute triangles with two equal sides.

We captured another large hog in the trap last night, and I'm staying away from it until the hog has been dispatched. He crashes against the side of the trap with a tremendous amount of force, so I am attempting to avoid unnecessary agitation. We found someone to take the meat.

Make, fix, create, and offer an example that others may be inspired to love learning likewise.

Friday, August 19, 2016

in the thick...

I am in the thick of planning for the coming school year, and also planning for two visits by members of the American Folk Art Museum from New York. My shop is a mess and must be cleaned, and I have numerous small projects that need to be completed. In addition, the editor's work on my book about making Froebel's gifts is nearing completion and so I'm in the process of review.

It is fascinating that in IQ tests, knowing how things fit together is an important aspect in the measure of intellect, but schools actually do so very little to encourage understanding of such things, focusing instead on abstractlearning that can be offered on the cheap.

The only recourse at this point is to take matters and materials in your own hands in the education of our kids. The image above is of one variant of gift number 7, this being triangles with two equal sides. My new book will tell how to make such things, and the boxes in which they can be kept.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the likelihood of learning likewise.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

the creator/craftsman

There is nothing more important to the human race than that its members become involved in the creation of useful beauty, and there is no more useful and beautiful connection between human culture and the natural world than the beautiful and useful things we craft from wood.

The truest purpose of making things, however, is  not to have them, hold them or sell them, but to reshape ourselves and our own lives to align with a higher image of self... Man the creator/craftsman, for in that form we are aligned in service to the rest of humanity.

I know there may be a sense of awkwardness and egotism in laying claim to a sense of moral superiority in relation to the practice of making beautiful and useful things. But please look around you and see what's happening to the real world when caring about the making of useful beauty has been in decline for some time.

Today in my wood shop, I'm cleaning and beginning to make a number of tiny bentwood boxes to sell when we have guests arriving from New York's American Folk Art Museum in September.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the understanding of the necessity of learning likewise.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


This morning I take my shovel to the Eureka Springs School of the Arts for a groundbreaking ceremony. The earthwork has already begun leveling the ground for the new wood shop, but we are going to take the time for a photo op to help with publicity for the major new addition to our school campus.

We are also meeting at the Clear Spring School to plan the coming school year, and I have been going through edits for my book on making Froebel's gifts. Naturally, we find a few things missing and a few things that must be fixed, as that's part of the process.

We seem to have been victorious for the time being in our efforts to remove feral hogs. We have had no further sightings of hogs since removal of the 12 feral piglets, and they are being raised in confinement on a small farm to the south of town. Getting out to check the trap each morning is a delight still.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood through your example that others learn to love learning likewise.