This has been a very interesting winter for me. I have been in Maine at The Center For Furniture Craftsmanship teaching wood turning, carving, and box making, but mostly working on musical instruments. I started this exploration over a year ago. Inspired by The video of the Children’s Orchestra of Paraguay I started making instruments during a residency I did at Merrimack high, in Merrimack New Hampshire, and continued for 5 months during a Windgate Residency at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I have made at least 60 instruments so far. When I began I wanted to only make stringed instruments from found objects and scrap wood. During my recent exploration of the stick dulcimer I have purchased materials as well as utilizing scrap. I feel like my time here this winter has been a trip down the rabbit hole. I have learned bending techniques, and been inspired by wonderful colleagues like Yuri Kobayashi, Bruce Beacon, Asher Dunn and Brian McAlpine. The CFC has provided us with an amazing studio and I have been working night and day. I will be teaching stringed instrument making at 2 venues this spring and summer-May 16-20 at Snow Farm in Western Mass, and the end of July with my friend Peter Park at Peters Valley Craft Center in Layton New Jersey. I am really interested in the sculptural and kinetic nature of instrument making. I am really excited to have the opportunity to share what I have learned. Here are some pictures of work I have been doing the last 3 months.
new 6 string guitar in progress
Mandolin Case in Progress
Last weekend I taught a wonderful group of adults at The Center For Furniture Craftsmanship how to make bandsaw boxes. It was really fun. With a little instruction the students were able to come up with some wonderful designs. Here are some pictures.
On Wednesday I taught a group of 8th grade math students how to use geometry in turning. I introduced turning and they all made 5 cylinders. This was to get them used to the idea of putting things on and off the lathe and using the tool rest as a straight edge guide. Then all the students marked the end of wood cylinders, offset, so that everyone could turn an ellipse. Once that was accomplished we marked the ends of another cylinder and made triangles. The kids were great! Just so they could have a functional item to take home we made the ellipses into whistles. Here are some pictures.
Happy Holidays to Everyone!
Time is racing by as usual. Since my adventures in Philly I have visited the Tierney Learning Center to conduct an after school whistle making session. The program I visited is run by Claire Kaiser, a City Corp volunteer who is doing a smashing job. Working with kids from the time school ends till their parents are done with work is daunting. The kids clearly love Claire and are lucky to have someone like her as a role model and touchstone in their days. We need more people helping to channel the after school energy in positive ways.
Last week I made a Strum stick with Venera Gattonini in my Roslindale shop. She is the Woodshop teacher at New Market Middle School in New Hampshire. I have been lucky enough to visit her program several times. I taught her to make a strum stick in hopes that it will get filtered into the curriculum. Stringed instruments are the perfect project to fulfill the STEAM requirements at some schools. STEAM stands for –science, technology, engineering, art, math. I have started teaching this at several Art Centers. This summer I will be teaching simple stringed instrument making at Peters Valley Craft Center and Snow Farm. Any of you teachers out there looking for a new STEM or STEAM project, please join me this summer.
Last Week I was a guest Critic at my beloved Mass Art. I got to spend the day looking at the final projects of students in the sculpture department. My surprise was that one of the students was Katelyn Ming. Katelyn was one of my great students at SUNY Purchase where I taught for a semester in 2012. She transferred to Mass Art after I left Purchase, and boy has she been busy. She showed us her new work containing, blown glass, welding, metal casting and of course woodturning. I was very impressed and so glad to see where she is taking her work.
Last week I completed 2 large columns just in time, I leave tomorrow for The Center For Furniture Craftsmanship. Here are some pictures.
On Saturday I participated in an event at The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia sponsored by Craft Now. I was representing The Center For Art In Wood. We did a whistle making project. I had the best team ever. Suzanne and Jeff Kahn, Tom Sloan, Frank Nowak and Ethan from University of the Arts. Having this many wonderful volunteers’ allowed us to make over 150 whistles, between 11:00 and 4:00. It was non stop action and a lot of fun was had by all. I always find that it is difficult to get volunteer’s. I think people think they need to be an expert, or else they feel they do not know how to teach. The team helping me on Saturday all said the same thing, they were thrilled with the people interaction and they loved the look on everyone’s face when their whistle actually functioned. They were doing so much more than helping people make whistles. They helped some kids and adults hold a woodworking tool for the first time. This is a very powerful and primal experience. It is delivering the idea of self sufficiency in a world that leaves many individuals feeling disempowered. They were teaching problem solving, that saw could be used for many things, the measuring tools have many applications as well as the shaping tools. 2 parents during the event were blown away by the focus their kids had for this project and wanted to know where they could find classes. Because of these volunteers’ we reached over 150 people instead of 25. It made a difference. I volunteer for many things, I believe it is an important part of being in a community, my neighborhood and the community of woodworking/ turning I belong to. When ever you get something from community or activity it is important to give something back. It does not have to be an activity that overtakes your life, it can be a simple as showing up at the Kimmel Center for 6 hours and helping a ton of people make a simple thing. Here are some pictures:
I have just arrived home from a whirlwind of teaching and events. Last Thursday I had the honor of returning to SUNY Purchase and being the guest instructor for an evening in KimWinkle’s Class. She is the current Wingate Fellow and it was really great to get to visit her and be back at SUNY Purchase. Kim’s teach skills really show in the quality of objects that her class has been creating. I taught them how to turn a wet bowl,and the shavings were flying. Here are some pictures:
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged art education, Beth Ireland, france woodworking, Guitars, International art/craft education, Making, Personal journey, Sarah Kay UK, Spain, travel, vacation, woodworking, Woodworking food