Final report on Maine, May 2012

well, my head is spinning. I got back from my Maine trip a few days ago…so still unpacking, sorting and trying to get back in the swing of things at home & at the shop. Here’s a recent panel carving:

But I’m distracted in several different directions. One is Doug Stowe’s long run of excellent posts about education. This is a pertinent subject, my kids are heading for first grade next fall…and we need to figure out how we want that to play out. Anyone got a winning lottery ticket to spare? Doug’s stuff is really thought-provoking – here’s one from today:

Last week he beat me to the punch reading the NY Times, Doug posted a link to this article that I had flagged:

As I said earlier, the Maine trip was great – I always have an excellent time at Lie-Nielsen, this sign is something I did for the classroom there:

and got lots of birding in,

waxwing in apple tree



common yellowthroat

and more waxwings

saw old friends, etc….

but the certain highlight of the whole trip was two hours I got to spend with Bill Coperthwaite.

Bill Coperthwaite

Showing the crooked knife:

I have mentioned here before, but now will again, that Bill’s book A Handmade Life is one of my absolute favorite books. Period. I keep one at home & one in the shop. I don’t know of a book I have read more.

I had visited Bill’s house in 2004, but he was on his way out of town that day. Here’s some photos from that trip:

a detail:

So last week, I planned ahead & got to visit a bit before I hit the road back to Massachusetts. Bill & I have a lot of mutual friends, some of whom were my major wood-working influences. We talked of knives, axes, puzzles, friends, Sweden, England, the lack of corners in his house, and on & on. I can’t wait to get back to spend some time making shavings with him…it was so inspiring.

More photos from 2004:

one more – these were in October that year, but May was equally beautiful:

here’s links to read more about Bill and the Yurt Foundation


11 thoughts on “Final report on Maine, May 2012

  1. Have you considered home-schooling?

    I don’t know your domestic situation, so that may not be possible. We made the mistake of paying big dollars for “the best private school” in town for three years before realizing that it wasn’t working. I live in a state known for its excellent public school system, so it was a big deal for this not-rich person to “invest” in private schooling.

    We made the call when calculators were required classroom materials for third grade. My son did not yet know his multiplication tables, but he was going to be using calculators instead. That same year, the art teacher was required to remove the gouges and chisels from her classroom because a student might possibly get hurt while carving. There were several excellent teachers at that school, but they were kept from allowing students to excel by school policies.

    We are now finishing sixth grade (with a lot of above-grade-level material, including an on-line college course), and I only wish we had started with home school from the beginning.

    Where I live there are secular and religious home school groups that provide plenty of opportunity for social interaction (weekly park days, etc.) and a support network for the home-school teachers.

    I know this is not the primary focus of this blog, and I apologize to anyone that is upset that I am not discussing my 18th-century English planes. The education of our children is important stuff.

    • Charles: thanks for the note. No apology necessary. It’s my blog – I do what I want with it. I started the education discussion – it’s on my mind.

  2. The NYT article was pointed out to me
    in a Wendell Berry discussion group
    You’re the second person I know of
    that has Coperthwaites book. I saw
    the democratic axe, and well…

    • You should see the newest democratic axe! I don’t subscribe to all the ideas Bill has – but the simplify part, and the handmade part are very inspiring. As is the connection to nature.

  3. We home schooled all four of our kids. (OK, I helped my wife) and they turned out to be some of the smartest, most well behaved, and mature kids around.
    And I’m not spouting off as a proud parent.
    It’s a commitment for sure, but well worth it.
    Just throwing it out there.

  4. Peter,

    Jacobean joinery, ornithology, art, aesthetics, and now the canons of education.
    No frippery and piffle for you …
    At the risk of tapping out some ineffable twaddle, I’ll volunteer my recent brushes with our educational systems. My oldest left the Hingham school system to attend Norfolk Aggie. This summer she is continuing her education at an agricultural symposium at VCU, and then in August taking a few courses at Brown.
    Public schools are what we make them … I can’t imagine that your kids will be sullied or corrupted with you as there father. Granted, nothing is that simple… MA has pretty good public schools … if you want entitled plutocrats send them to a place like Belmont. I

  5. An addendum: their… my apologies for being frail and ego-centric, as well as a victim of this here machines “anticpatory spelling software”.

    Your kids being your kids will have astral weeks on most of their (got it right this time) contemporaries. Manus et mens is alive and well in this here commonwealth.
    There’s 4H, the MFA, North Bennet, the Atheneum, the Gardner – all have programs for kids … even if we could all send our kids to Eton, they would still further benefit from the aforementioed. Then you may just want to ask your kids…

    With you as the pater familias, they’ll be jes’ fine.

  6. I love the sign. I’ve done some of that strap work craving already, but the sign is nothing short of inspiring. I’ve been considering carving a sign for my shop for no reason other than to do it, and this might just be the inspiration I need.

    Great work!

  7. Well, since you bring up education, I hope you don’t mind my own perspective. I was home schooled myself all the way through high school, and now my wife and I are beginning to teach our own children at home. (That includes having my kids with me at the workbench a lot.) I wouldn’t have traded my home school experience for anything. Yes, it was a lot of extra work on my parents’ part, but the freedom we had to explore and learn–to make our whole world our classroom–was worth all the inconveniences.

    Home schooling isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t always possible even for those who would like to give it a try. Of course it can be done well or done poorly, just like public and private education can be done well or poorly. But I hope you will give it some serious thought.

  8. Bill and his book have inspired me for years as you do too. Drew changed my life as well. Another of our favorites list A Handmade Life as a game changer, Doug Stowe


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s