"He practises various handicrafts that he may know the feel of wood, clay, leather, and the joy of handling tools, that is, that he may establish a due relation with materials." --Charlotte Mason, Vol. 6, p. 31
Aside from being satisfying, there are valuable lessons of character to be gotten through hand crafts. One is the habit of slow and careful work. Rushing through to get it done will not result in something to be proud of; more likely, it will result in a mess to be ashamed of! Hand crafts also foster a sense of beauty and an appreciation for things that are well-made.
As schools generally go, students choose whether they will pursue work with the brain (college prep) or work with the hands (learning a trade). But it does not have to be either-or. It can, and I now believe it should, be both-and. With that in mind, our students learn hand crafts as part of our regular curriculum. They have learned knitting, knot work, basket-coiling, silk-screening, and sewing. (Thank you, Rachelle and Renee from Art Blooms!) They are beginning to learn block printing, and soon they will learn some basic carpentry as we build homes for our school's family of Eastern Bluebirds. Sometimes we make things to keep, sometimes we make gifts for others, and sometimes we use hand crafts as part of our community service. Currently, we are finishing up hand made pillows for local hospice patients.
Hand crafts also put us in contact with other members of the local community. Last Friday, Kim Gordon and her daughter, Laurel, came to share their hand craft, soap-making. We learned so many interesting things about the history and science of soap! For example, did you know that soap was found in Egyptian tombs and in the ruins of Pompeii? And that what you used in the shower this morning is most like not soap at all, but detergent? And that if you get lye on your skin, water will start the chemical reaction that will result in a serious burn, but vinegar will neutralize it? Below are a few snapshots taken during the demonstration. You can find Kim on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Hanksco?fref=ts to order your all-natural soap. Or, you will be able to find her at the Foothills Farmers Market in April when it re-opens. Your skin will thank you!