Swords, Shields & Polar Bears
My school is throwing its annual Fall Fair this Saturday (Nov. 21). It’s a one-day open-house extravaganza where we open our doors to all to show our students’ achievements both in academics and the arts. At the Fair we offer artisan workshops in fabric, clay and candle making, and we sell handmade craft work that students’ parents volunteered to make (and of course there will be great food).
The parents who volunteered to join the Fall Fair’s workshop in wood have been building all kinds of animals, swords and shields. Some of our parents have had prior experience in woodworking; others were complete beginners. We met the parents every Tuesday morning and they have been a terrific group: whittling, gouging, sawing, rasping, sanding and painting.
While my colleague, Ms. Poliakine, oversaw the zoo (animal carving), I was busy coaching our “forge,” producing a small armory of pine swords and their complementary plywood shields. The structure of our swords is very simple. We used a cross halving joint which we cut using the band saw to connect the blade to the gourd. Then we roughly shaped the swords’ blades and their guards on the band saw and glued the two together. Once they dried, we faired the shapes with spokeshaves, rasps and sandpaper. Check the illustration below for ideas on how to make a simple wooden sword and shield.
The shields are made from 3/16″ plywood and include handles that we also cut on the band saw.
After finishing sanding we used gesso and acrylic paints to decorate the swords and shields. Lastly, we wrapped a rope around the sword’s handle using the common whipping technique.
Come visit us Saturday (10 a.m-4 p.m.) if you happen to be in the City: Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan, Fall Fair, 15 East 79th Street street between 5th and Madison Ave, New York, N.Y., 10075.