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Grasping the wooden handle of a dozukime saw with both hands, I make a rip-cut into a block of eastern white pine, leaving behind a 1/64-inch wide kerf. I am cutting a dovetail: a wood joint developed over five-thousand years ago by the hands of our ancestors. Even now, a well-fitted dovetail joint remains one of the strongest, most elegant ways to join wood. I knew nothing about traditional woodworking when I first picked up a hand-plane, but I was soon inspired by the richness of the craft: the quality of a hand-planed finish, the spirit of craftsmanship, and the nature of material. I was amazed by the wealth of knowledge embodied in craftwork. The tools and materials I encountered spoke to me; I learned to care for them and for my work. How would the things I make endure through time? How would the things I make affect others? In an era where materialism has come to represent a spiritless relationship to the things around us, traditions of craft can teach us how to imbue the human spirit in our work. After making a harvest table, four chairs, ninety-four earthenware pots, and a lamp, I reflect on the act of making as a means of discovery. Making affects our thinking and our approach to material and environment. Making can help us develop a craftsman’s capacity to listen, a great respect for material, and a desire to make better objects for posterity. Making is learning.
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Melissa Ng (2014). On Making. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/8183