My Hands Remembered

At school the first term students and I fit our drawers, made and fit the frame and panel back to our cabinets, and began work on the sawhorses. In the time between lectures and assisting the students, I began work on the set of chairs in narra, I began a while back. 

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I finished roughing out the crest rail blanks, and finished the rear seat rail joinery. Over the next few days I will pick away at completing the shaping on the back legs. The narra is lovely and will make a fine chair, but not nearly as strong as the white oak the originals were made, so I have made all the parts a trifle larger than the originals. I can adjust the visual weight when I get to the edge treatment. 

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With less than two weeks left in the term, despite the diminishing daylight, the evenings are getting longer and the mornings earlier. Over the years I have come to enjoy this time. Sunday I will head into the school and prepare the millwork for next term.

In my own workshop this past week, I crosscut the supports to length, and dialled in the fit of the notch. I am heading out after I write to finish the shaping before turning my attention to the shoulders on the twin live tenons, which need a bit of work. 

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Life is busy but good. In the words of Eva Zeisel, “My hands have remembered something remembered. Not my mind but my hands. 
Be well and enjoy your work,
Robert  



Growing Lettuce

This past week, the first term students and I made drawers for our little cabinets. When we begin, I remind the students, that work of this sort is among the most personal work we do. The way we hold a chisel in our hand, the sensitive touch as it shears the fibres as we approach a fit. The way a tail is carefully fitted to the sweeping inward curve of the pin is a beautiful thing, something that can only be created by the human hand.

 my drawer

my drawer

As we approach the end of our eight week of the fall term and my return to teaching full time, I cannot remember being happier in my life and work. I contribute much of this to my daily walks, meditation and yoga. This is the time in the program when I remind the students that they too need to take care of themselves, so that they can do their best work,

 my walk

my walk

This morning as I sat at the front bench preparing for my morning lecture, I looked around the room and all my students were working at their benches. It was focused yet relaxed vibe in the school. I am so grateful for my life and work.

 growing lettuce

growing lettuce

When I returned home this evening after my beautiful after class walk by the sea, I spent some time in my workshop before sitting down to write. I am making some utility shelving for Yvonne’s sewing room. I am using a few bits and pieces of brown oak left from Andi’s showcase cabinet. They were all to small to run over the machines, so I dimensioned each of the pieces by hand, before cutting the joinery. This is an exercise that we do often at the school, and a skill that is invaluable in our craft. I have them roughly shaped and have carved a few hooks where they will be useful. The bocote is from a small piece from Jim, and in time will age beautifully along side the oak.

On the first day of the program, I shared a short passage from a book by Thich  Nhat Hanh in which he suggests that he is a poet, but for him to write poetry well, he needs to grow lettuce. I believe this to be true.

I am a teacher, but for me to be a good teacher I must and spend time at my bench. I spend my days in a beautiful place surrounded be aspiring amateurs, and my evenings, weekends and breaks in my beautiful workshop. 
Be well & enjoy your work… and grow lettuce
Robert