Monday, June 28, 2010

Carving A Chess Set Rook

The summer heat in the mountains was very hot today but not so miserable that we were going to miss any carving time. This afternoon I had a two hour class with a group of kids who just returned from a canoe trip and they've been playing a lot of chess during lag time traveling on the van and while in campsites along the river.

Therefore one of my more aspiring students asked if I could help him get started on making a chess set while holding up a rook playing piece. "Sure", I told him as I inspected the plastic piece, then sent him into the nearby woods to collect a dry poplar limb off the forest floor of the approximate size. I told him that this was an ambitious project that would take a lot of commitment to complete but that I'd guide him along with his goal if he wanted to give it a go.

In a few minutes he came walking up with a fine poplar branch that would work just fine. As you can see in the pictures to the left he had excellent focus on his cuts and is using both hands with a nicely controlled push cut. At first he was having a bit of trouble getting his knife to make clean cuts so after I demonstrated how to incorporate a "slicing" motion with the blade as he pushed it through the wood, he did much better. "Just one sliced layer at a time until you get the desired depth", I would tell him and this kid listened well. Yes, it will take a lot of practice before carving becomes comfortable and second-nature, but I assured him that if he sticks with it then his hand muscles will develop along with better hand-eye coordination and with time his skill would increase.

Before the class was over my new carver had completed two rook pieces for which he was very proud. Before I left he was already thinking out loud about how he was going to design and carve his next piece. Now he knows how I feel at the end of my day... thinking and dreaming about my next project.

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