Chelsea Green Publishing

The Work of Art

It has always seemed to me that the central activity of humankind is art, that our common job consists of fitting each and every one of our unique and individual selves into a whole life and landscape, into our communities, into our common stories. http://www.theworkofart.org (Irish pun intended) features some essays about that work — the day-to-day making and fitting together of whatever parts and pieces that come to hand, to make beauty. Like so much of industrial and post-industrial life, art suffers from fragmentation, isolation, separation between self and community. And artists have had little choice but to accept the terms they've been given — to "be an artist" you have to make it pay. So artists either have to work for wealth and power, or they have to work for advertisers, entertainers, and various purveyors of lies or inanity. But real art — from washing the dishes to hoeing the beans — as well as the painting and drawing and sculpting —  requires celeb
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Spoons

For bowl carving, Bill invented this simple jig that sits on a bench to hold your bowl-blank, and greatly eases the job of hand-carving a bowl. He has also adapted the traditional Swedish pulling harness for the crooked knife, reducing it to a cord and a toggle handle with which to pull the knife.
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Two-tier yurt with Bill Coperthwaite

Here's the lovely, two-tier yurt that Bill Coperthwaite helped us build last October. It's on the grounds of Margaret Mathewson's Ancient Arts Center near Alsea, Oregon, just a long leap over a couple of ridges, into the next drainage south of us (on Lobster Creek, which flows into the Alsea River). We'll finish the woven willow and mud walls this May. If you want to come help, we'll be having two workshops, 1st and last weekends in May.
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Don’t be an artist

DON’T BE AN ARTIST [Art] must have begun as nature — not as an imitation of nature, not as a formalized representation of it, but as the relationship between humans and the natural world, from which we can’t be separated despite our attempts to set up a technological superstructure to destroy it. — Lucy R. […]
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ovens and efficiency

Dear Oven builders, mud teachers, bakers, and eaters: I would like to talk to you about some of the claims being published about the efficiency of earthen ovens. I think we need to be clear that any masonry oven, whether it’s made of unfired earth or fired brick, is not, by definition, a “fuel efficient […]
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stix ‘n mud can make a hug

A new charter school in Corvallis commissioned this mud project as the initial step in creating an “outdoor classroom.” All 60 kids, K-5, participated in 2 days of playdough brainstorming and design, and six days of mud. Parents and neighbors contributed random prunings of willow, fruitwood, and forsythia that we wove into a rough hut; […]
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Jumping bricks, or: inside out oven building

I built this oven for a local CSA farmstand restaurant (gathering together farm). We held a public workshop; folks came to make mud and learn and we built the basic oven in a weekend. BUT! (and this was my fault for not watching more closely), the dome came out a little flat. Usually, when it’s […]
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We The People vs The Western Diet

I just finished reading In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan. Part of my pleasure in reading it was remembering my grandmother, Evelyn Sayre Norton, and meals at her table — the eggs she fried in bacon grease, the lamb fat she savored, and the produce she brought back from local farmers for whom she […]
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