Monday, April 11, 2016

Inky Art Project

Since my daughter started attending middle school in 6th grade, she has been enamored by the art projects on display each semester. In her school, the eighth graders create a final art project of their own choosing, it's wide open and many of them pour out effort and personality, even though the teacher merely sets a minimum of 5hrs effort for the project. My daughter, "Inky" (not her real name, I'm just paranoid), from the day she started wanted to do something grand and probably beyond her ability (looks like it runs in the family), and I have quietly sat on the side, hoping that she'd want to do something in wood. By the time 8th grade came around, we knew she wanted to do something that would also link to her primary passion, music.

At first suggestion, she wanted to make a violin either real or some sort of scale model but that was not practical, or realistically possible given her skills, with a little guidance she was hooked on the idea of replacing the rickety folding metal music stand she used with a nice wooden version.

So off she went to Pinterest and the like. Of course she was instantly drawn to the iconic Maloof and Esherick stands that were also way above her ability and not realistic to complete within her time frame. With a little more gentle guiding we found the CH Becksvoort music stands. Which in his typical shaker style are "simpler", though certainly not easy to complete and not lacking at all in the design.

We settled on "Stand V" for inspiration since we were both drawn to its vibrant angles. We laid out a full size pattern based on her decisions on what would fit her usage and design tastes, not directly copying the original, but tweaking to fit. Materials would be from what we had on hand, and after looking at what was possible, Inky settled on the classic high contrast of walnut & maple. 

The other rules set forth by the art teacher is that parents may assist with power tools etc but the student must be around through it all and be involved. For whatever reason, a backsaw can bring poor Inky to tears so I figured I would do the cutting of lines but have her involved in the layout and cleanup work around the numerous compound angled half laps. She always participated in each step along the way, though sometimes I did some "elf" work to complete the step to meet the timeline and keep each step from becoming a drudgery. We figured she spent >30 hrs herself fully engaged in learning and making, so she certainly put herself into it and exceeded the requirements.

There were of course many lessons to learn on this project, one is that many lapped joints at compound angles are tricky and would really benefit from machinery and a bit of "jiggery". We laid everything out and cut by hand so she would get the experience, but in retrospect, a table saw and a jig would be better (sorry if I offend you with my willingness to callously slaughter innocent electrons) she also learned how to use dividers, keep to a deadline and fix mistakes, both with patching and with adding new design "features". 

The real lesson I hope both my kids are learning from projects like this, is that woodworking and making things are just a natural part of life, fluidly moving from a way to fill a functional need or express an artistic desire.

1 comment:

  1. She did a great job and it turned out beautiful. What a great dad and daughter working together/bonding time. Truly special. Plus she is learning so many skills for her life.