On Monday, our dragons group started our Independent Study Projects. We were presented with a multitude of choices; Julia and I chose to take an “apprenticeship” with a woodworker and his daughter. They work with cedar, juniper, and orange wood to make statues, bowls, utensils, and small wooden knives (for decoration purposes only). Since our Amazigh teacher spoke only his own language, and we spoke no Tamazigh, his daughter translated for us. We didn’t do any of the initial shaping, the remaking of a chunk of wood into a spoon-like object, but we did refine the spoon-like objects into the spoons themselves (or at least more spoon-like objects). The job for us involved a lot of filing, sanding, and eventually varnishing. Occassionally, after we thought we had finished a varnish job, our teacher would laugh at us and instruct us to scrape the varnish off and do it over again. We thought this was because we did a shoddy job. Turns out that’s the way you get a really pretty spoonlike object: scraping and varnishing a few times. We trusted the master on this, once we figured out what was going on.
We don’t know our teacher’s name. We don’t know much about him, other than he prefers to carve barefoot, his favorite wood is cedar (his daughter’s favorite is juniper; orange is nobody’s favorite), he laughs a lot, and he’s missing a finger. He laughs and has us hand him things. He laughs and talks to his daughter. He laughs and throws spoonlike objects in our general direction (he usually misses us. We like to think it’s on purpose). We think we’ve got a pretty good thing going so far.
On our first day, we made a salad fork and spoon set, a small knife, a spoon and fork set holder, and an incense dish. We’re having a blast.