Saturday, February 26, 2011

Haptic Memory

Last summer, I was in between projects and having a sort of “A-ha” moment connecting between my early experience making things and the path that lead me back to making things. I starting thinking about all the things that I made as child and the contrast of being a kid making things with a very limited set of tools, experience, and knowledge as opposed the challenge of making things now having perhaps too much of one or another. It was at this point that decided to start a little side project. A project that may or not be anything except perhaps an exercise in mining the memory. 

 I decided I would attempt to reproduce/copy some of my very early projects as accurately as possible. In a second part to this exercise, I plan on remaking the objects as I originally intended them if skill and resources were not an issue. Anyway, for the first project I decided to reproduce not the earliest object, but the first object that I actually “designed”. It was a wooden knife that I made for a project in the 4th or 5th grade.

In the process of making the little knife, I was amazed at the feeling deja-vu that had shaping the various parts and the sense of freshness repeating the motions that made nearly 20 years before.  I vividly remembered points where I fought grain direction, the frustration on with the tools I was using and the amazement with others (I thought sandpaper was magical, ha). Also brought to the surface was the memory of my first and perhaps, worst injury, with an edged tool: A very deep cut into my left thumb in which I glimpsed the white of my bone. Oopsies. 

Perhaps the most significant feeling that re-emerged was the sense of accomplishment that I felt finishing this little object and presenting it to my teacher and classmates.  I think this sense of accomplishment was a profound moment for me and I feel like it still resonates in every object that have made since, including this modern reproduction.  I have many similar objects including I made several years before during shop class when I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade- Yes, we had a shop class in the 2st and 3nd grades (we also had a ceramics class).

This little experiment only underscores my belief in the value of “manual-arts” training at a very early age, an agenda that is quickly disappearing from modern educational models. I have a lot more to say about this, but I will require it’s own post(s).

Anyway, what was the first thing you remember “making”?
If you still have it, try re-making it again. What will you remember?


Stereoette said...

Mostly drawings and watercolors... my mother still has a drawing I did of a gymnast when I was about four or five.

I just stumbled upon your blog... I have major workshop envy!

nielscosman said...

You should remake them and report!
ps. thanks for reading and commenting!