Welcome to the virtual incarnation of my workshop where you can find out about the different aspects of my work - without disturbing me. My website http://www.basscare.se/ is being kept as simple as possible. Here is where you'll find the stuff I chat to my customers about, or stuff that I would chat to my customers about if there was more time and I was more chatty. Feel free to browse around and if you'd like to get updates in your facebook newsfeed click on 'like' at my facebook page: Elinore Morris - instrument maker www.facebook.com/Basscare. The colours of this blog attempt to match the colours of the inside of the workshop, which has been renovated with historically accurate linseed oil based paint, and you can see a snippet of the newly sanded wooden floor.

Monday, 16 May 2011

The "Nääs Effect"

I have just been to a lecture by a lady called Anna Alm who is doing her doctoral thesis on the effect Nääs had on the lives of those who took the Slöjd teachers' courses between 1880 and 1940. It was very interesting. The school (building which houses my workshop) was started by Otto Salomon, who was nephew of the guy who owned the manor house. It was revolutionary in that he introduced pedagogique into woodwork teaching in schools, whereas before woodwork classes were given to keep children occupied with hands busy by the local carpenter. He developed a step by step system of teaching which aimed to encourage independence and creativity. Form, function and aesthetic were important as well as being able to plan and make the object without help, using good posture.

The 6 week courses were co-ed, which was also new and very international. They had participants from up to 20 different countries. The Nääs method was especially popular in Britain and USA before WW1. There was a special atmosphere that make a lasting impression on the lives of those who came and they would always look back to the time with great nostalgia. It was especially empowering for women.

The interesting little coincidence that I learnt was that Otto Salomon's wife was called Ellen which is nearly my name and they named their son Axel which is also my son's name! There was a picture of him as a boy, carving away at some project.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Wood and sound: using marimbas in a "slöjd" club.

On Tuesday I gave a talk to a group of "slöjd" consultants who are amongst other things responsible for setting up "slöjd" clubs for children all around the country. "Slöjd" is Swedish style craft, a special way of working with material. The building where I have my workshop was where they developed a teaching method for this a century ago. This method became well known in other parts of the world and people travelled long distances to attend the summer courses. They still hold lots of different courses here but they are more general interest, not aimed at teachers as such. 

One of the 5 principals of the modern "slöjd" clubs is that they should aim to be multi-cultural. In other words one can find inspiration from unexpected sources (e.g. from the african violin-maker down the corridor), from other countries and other disciplines of the arts (e.g. music, story-telling) and incorperate them into the children's creativity. 

So that is the background to the little workshop I did. Contact me if you'd like a copy of the notes that I made. They include a bit of theory, a long list of questions that a instrument maker might ask themselves when choosing suitable wood, a few pictures and some links to relevant video clips on you-tube. Below is the little resonance box that I used as an example, made out of a birch tree that we felled in the early spring.

Visit to the Buskaid music school in Soweto

I recently made a quick visit to Johannesburg to meet up with the people who run Buskaid music school in Diepkloof, Soweto. http://www.buskaid.org.za/ They are looking at the possibility of developing an existing project that they have by setting up an instrument repair workshop on sight which will maintain the impressive collection of good instruments that they have accumulated over the years. The teaching project which has been in progress since 1994 has certainly produced phenomenal results. It was a very exciting and inspiring visit and I look forward to following them and seeing how this new project develops.
There were at least 4 class and individual lessons going on when I visited the school.  Rosemary Nalden, the founder of the school, was busy with one student while the other classes were taken by the Buskaid teachers who have grown up in the system. There were also a number of observers, like this cutie in the cello class, learning by watching.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Open House 7-8 May 10.00-17.00

This weekend is the annual spring handcraft fair at Nääs and the workshop will be open. Alf-Inge will be there with his birds and to answer questions about violin-making.

Progress on the Quarter Size Violin