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artisan workshop
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.

artisan workshop20151103_100118While 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. 

Swords and Shields artisan workshop artisan workshop artisan workshop artisan workshop

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.

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artisan workshop

I cut the stencil from a sheet of Mylar foil. Then I affixed it the shield with masking tape and dabbed the stencil with a sponge charged with acrylic paint.

artisan workshop

artisan workshop

The finished shield

artisan workshop

The shield’s back side and its handle. The handle was cut on the bandsaw.

DSCN2750artisan workshop— Yoav Liberman

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Showing 7 comments
  • mbholden

    Sounds and looks like fun. A side note, a short article on how you wrap the handles would be interesting. hint, hint.

  • terrynjon

    Sounds like a great school. Our high school just started having a building class two years ago. There was nothing before that for students who wanted to make things and were not aiming for college.


  • terrynjon

    You’re allowed to have swords at school? Shocking! Have a great time and best of luck.



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