Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dad's Basement Workshop and Sixth Grade Science

It was in the basement, and it was where things got fixed. Window screens were made there. Baby food jars whose lids had been nailed to the underside of a shelf contained tacks and brads and staples. And there were cigar boxes with labels like "rope, light wire" and "small bolts." That was over half a century ago.

The family workshop, kid accessible, is a rarity these days.

When Mrs. T at a local private school began to appreciate that she had students who had no opportunity to work with their hands in the world of mechanical things, she asked me if I could help. Together we concocted this little series of science classtimes centered around "attaching things." The ostensible goal was to create a sculpture out of found objects. In fact, the kids were getting their hands on screws and bolts, adhesives from epoxy to polyurethanes and--the coolest of all--pop rivets! If you're going to use those things, you'll need to know about some tools, too.

I heard myself sounding like Norm on New Yankee: "Before we get started, let's talk about safety..."

I supplied the boxes of stuff--note the closeup of the sculpture in progress--and trays of fasteners and gobs of glue.

There was 100% interest on the part of the kids. Like bringing water to the thirsty, I brought stuff and they figured out how to use it. Smiles and intense questions were reward enough.

Many people I know volunteer at schools more than I do. But if you're not one of those, consider teachers' jobs right now, and the distractions that conspire to keep them from doing the best they can to prepare these future citizens, craftspeople, innovators, parents, for a life far more complicated than we can imagine.

Take your craft, your art, your skill, your experience into the office at your closest school and find out where you can fit in. An hour a week!

To be fair, it may take more than one try to find the age group you're wired for. But once you do, you'll be stuck to this service like you'd fallen into a large vat of epoxy, lag bolts, wood clamps, lock washers, phillips head screws, and, yes, pop rivets.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Take Your Barker Bass Dancing Tonight!

Terpsichore. Not a word we get to use in casual conversation often enough. From the Muse by the same name, the one who inspires dance. You probably know where this is heading: Matt Dancing

Here is simplicity overlaid with logistical complexity beyond imagining by someone who has two weeks of vacation a year. But if you used to have two weeks and now have no job, these few minutes could be good medicine.

The Barker Bass, from the point of view of the creator, your writer, can tend to be seen in the shadow of a sacrosanctity that would not allow humor.

But there are days when humor is not only the best medicine but also the only bottle in the medicine chest.

Hence these optional endpin addenda (which are indeed for sale) and may be just the right touch for that certain gig.

Installation requires the removal of the rubber tip (it's glued on but can be forced off) and the temporary insertion of a pilot shaft which is a permanent part of the accessory.

Accessorize your bass! Adornment! It's subtler than a rubber chicken, more environmentally friendly than a string of flashing Yule lights, and more easily removed than Nascar stickers!

Above all, take a moment to dance with Matt. Good for your head, your heart and your soul and everything in between.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Overtones to Ringers and Clangers

Grandpas are honored at the neighborhood thrift store on Tuesdays--half price if you're over 55. So the pot lids you see in the image were south of $2.50. Punch a few holes just so, thread some weedwhacker line, install a horizontal beam to the windmill tower, and, voila! oops, silence!

Well, you've got to bore and smush some golf balls on a couple of dowels.

Voila! Still silent. Something missing.

Add one granddaughter, Maya by name, and the symphony begins! It was chilly and almost dark, so we just got the first movement (allegro) in when dinner was announced.

Maya continued next morning, in the fresh snow.

The other image is the current grandkid array: Lily, Maya, and Bjorn. (Missing is Juniper, three months, not interested much in looking out a window at grandma's camera.) The three spent that day at Cline Falls Ranch where they proved that grandma's delight in goats is indeed a genetic thing. And then there's the wallaroo...