Why I create ... the beginnings of a Makers Manifesto

I’m deeply connected with the process of making. The smells and textures of the materials as I work with them and the rhythm of the work is soothing. Using the body to move through space in concert with materials is so satisfying and connecting that one becomes ethereally present in the moment. Flow. This is how I develop my story. My story made real through making. 

Making provides the opportunity to learn something new everyday. Making provides the opportunity to connect and learn from people with different world views than your own. This experience is so uplifting that it becomes like a drug in that we cannot enough of and we search for this experience. Most makers are self aware enough not to let this endeavor over power prudent behavior. More and more, making is seen as necessary part of community and learning. Maker spaces are popping up everywhere.  

This past week in the shop I’ve finished five small boxes, a bread board and a serving tray for the Farmers Market. I finished the welding cart and painted the bell. Next week I will be making and finishing a large breadboard for Becky, a special new design I’m stealing from an article in Fine Woodworking (can’t wait to show you), a wood and metal book shelf for a special small space in our kitchen, and the bench I started several months ago. This bench was one of my first metal/welding projects and I got the wood for the seat and back from Jack Carpenter a local sawyer. I finally got the metal bar for supporting the back yesterday. 

More on the maker's manifesto and pictures of completed projects coming. 

Small 4x4x2.5 inch boxes.

Bell made from recycled oxygen tank. Bottom cut off and ring welded to top. Now I need to build an outside hanger.

Nice to have the welder up of the floor. Poor choice for wheels as they are not so smooth.

Befriending ambiguity

“Take the Zen master’s advice, work less aggressively, befriending ambiguity.” Richard Sennett from is book “The Craftsman”. Zen is everywhere. How can Zen practice relate to making, craftsmanship, hand work, and skill building? Using minimal force and releasing to the universe. Sounds like Zen practice is a congruent to being a maker.

This week in the shop I’ve learned several things. Sanding with 400 and 600 grit waterproof paper while finishing with oil really improves the finished surface. Shellac first when finishing cherry as it tends to blotch. I should start with flat boards before glue up rather than try to flatten after the fact. Small boxes take small (thin) lids. Hummus becomes very creamy when you add a small amount of the liquid the beans where boiled in. 

Made 5 small boxes out of wood.

Two thick maple cutting boards.

Advanced a 19X30 maple cutting board. This board will be made like fine furniture. I got inspired by an article in Fine Woodworking magazine about making picture frames as fine furniture. I plan on installing bread board ends and pinning them so as it can move with seasonal changes in humidity. The costumer will get to choose between maple and walnut for the bread board ends. Tomorrow I go to Lewiston to flatten and sand the board with a 26” drum sander.

 In the metal shop this week I painted my welding cart,

make a metal 4X4 pencil holder

a simple metal bender and 

added a ring to the bell I'm making.

Too many projects in process. But this is become my usual. 


Rejects. Discovered flaws. Design dead ends. Patterns. I save these as reminders.

More thinking on ‘working to honesty and integrity’. Working with our hands and seeing the outcomes of our labors is a powerful learning experience. Evaluating our work and comparing it to our own expectations is tricky. Some of us are of the nature to be self critical and focus on the flaws. Some of us are of the nature to be to lax and ho hum. A balance it to realize that our imagination, our creative eye is always ahead of our abilities to execute. This is a good and natural thing. This is where honesty and integrity come in. We must be honest about out intentions and their outcomes. What is it to make a spoon? If we make something with the intention to make it pretty then call it pretty. If we make a spoon, make the best spoon you can.

Repetition. Malcom Gladwell suggested that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. This maybe true or not but it is clear that repetition and focused practice lead to skill and mastery. I started a project about 2 years ago to carve and make 400 spoons. This is a modest goal of which I yesterday finished my 200th spoon. Others have carved more and yet others have carved with more skill (prettier, more ornate, more traditional) but that is them and I am me. My skill has dramatically improved. My skill has not caught up with my creative eye and that keeps me going.

I don’t know anything about art. I must be honest about my making. I am a amateur in the best sense. I am too focused on my own making and creative eye that the distraction of “Art” doesn’t enter my world. This is all a way to get clearer. I don’t know what I think till I write it down.

This week in the shop I plan on finishing the stool tops for Paul, I have a job creating a butcher block cutting board in a special application for our landscaper, I’ll be making a tall narrow bookcase for cookbooks for Mary and I’ll be welding up a cart for my welder.

New Website

Welcome to my new website. Kestrel Creek is a phoenix, rising from the dead and trying to show new signs of life. I’ll try to not be so self-referencial or meta and try to be more sharing on my craft/making. Sometimes I just can’t help it though.

Today in the shop I’ll be moving wood in preparation for setting up my welding shop. I’ll be finish sanding the seats I’m making for Paul Wisdom. He makes wonderful stools, table and prayer wheels. Check them out at  http://www.dharmaworks.org/

Why we make things and why it matters

Finished Peter Korn’s book “Why we make things and why it matters” tonight. It was a wonderful read which I can fully and hardily recommend to anyone interested in living a ‘good’ life and making things. He eloquently weaves a narrative that has making things as the warp of a canvas with common daily activities threaded throughout to produce what a feeling of goodness. He describes three types of makers. First person, the original maker. Second person, a person experiencing the maker’s craft. Third person, the writer, critic, magazine - anybody viewing a facsimile of the object. Each has a place in the work. He describes the work of a maker as the shaping of a culture, little by little. A maker either reinforces or pushes the boundaries of what is considered normal in a culture. If the maker is a little out there, then the second and third person in this chain can reinforce or not, the makers notion. This is how design evolves.

This book is also an autobiography. Peter thought early on, that being a master craftsman meant that you’d be enlightened. And so went his search for meaning. But Peter so found out and shared that some master craftsmen are a-holes. Really what he was searching for was a good life. Something we all are after. We create our little part of the world each day. Each choice we makes adds up to our life. We are both a maker of things and a maker of our life.

Great writing and a great narrative. this I’ll defiantly reread.

The Nature and Art of Workmanship













My illness is preventing me from being in the shop being a maker. I love making things. I do a mix of my own stuff and copying what I see around me. Even when copying others designs and ideas, I impart a little of my own sensibility, sometimes to a positive affect sometimes not. While I can't get in the shop to make, I can read and write about the maker ethos.

Reading David Pye’s book The Nature and Art of Workmanship. I noticed that he was not comparing Art and Craft (he calls craftsmanship - workmanship). He looks at workings of workmanship. He uses a few terms to define the art of workmanship.

Free workmanship - outcome is an approximation if intent Regulated workmanship - outcome looks like intended repeatably

Workmanship of risk - outcome determined by worker Workmanship of certainty - outcome determined by machine/designer

I find these helpful in thinking about what I do. I tend to favor in my work a Free Workmanship of risk. He is careful not to disparage Regulated work or in some instances Workmanship of certainty. Each type of workmanship has its place. Like a scientist, he provides examples for his assertions unlike John Ruskin and William Morris, two influential figures in transition to modern workmanship. These writers railed against regulated workmanship of certainty. But according to Pye, they invoked Christianity as reason not to do regulated work. All there pointing to the harm that regulated workmanship of certainty caused was not backed up in reality. Pye points out gaps in their ideas.

One more chapter to go The aesthetic importance of workmanship, and its future.