Category Archives: Whittling

Images + Reflections

On Circle’s perfection / Whittle, Turn, Cast, Print.

There is a french artist called Fabienne Verdier. She lived in China for many years. She arrived at the age of 22 for some months, and stayed a decade.  When she returned to France after living in China for one third of her life, she had to find a way to reconcile opposite points of the compass, making them both a part of her so that she could create. I just remember her work and the connection it has to our path through perfect spheres. The circle is both the perfection, but when broken –when not perfect, when unclosed– it is also the beginning of chaos. We are not drawing circles to meditate, just as it was a mandala. However, I’m pretty sure that whittling and talking is somehow part find meaning through the act of making an object with our hands, and just having conversations around it can lead to better understandings. I’m thinking that all our imperfect results are all about meditation and, why not, the beginning of chaos.

Comparing Spheres

The process of creating spheres made me think about how we value the objects we’ve created, especially as the production process forces us to make necessary trade-offs. The radar chart above was created to help visualize how I experienced the production process and the resulting attachment I felt for each object (except the cast sphere). I’ve added a few additional thoughts on the process below. 

The first sphere I whittled looks like a diseased woodblock. It’s lumpy, stubbly, and wobbly. Although I spent many hours attempting to shape its ragged edges, it remains a block of wood (with great spheroid potential). The amount of time I spent whittling it is directly proportional to my attachment to it. It is also a reminder of the value of a true craftsman.

The second sphere I turned on the lathe looks very sleek in comparison, and it only took 45 minutes to complete. A bit of caution was necessary to prevent the sphere from deteriorating into a football, but it was completed in less than 1/10th the time of the half-whittled sphere.

The third 3D printed sphere was color printed in a little over an hour. The production process was technical and detached. It’s a beauty to behold, but it will disintegrate in water unless coated with a special protective finish. It seems less alive than the wood spheres, even though it was printed with corn starch, a once living material.

The fourth sphere I cast took about 45 minutes of prep time to set up the mold and begin the process, with another 12 hours or so required for the plaster to set. This process was more hands on at first, but after the mold had set, there was not much we could do to modify the final form.

What I appreciated most about each of these experiments was the ability to iterate as we progressed. Each process had its necessary trade-offs between time, effort, and the resulting attachment to each object. Although there is not a one-to-one correlation, it seems clear that my personal attachment (the affection or connection I felt with each object) was inversely related to the more digital process of prototyping.

Is this really necessary? – Whittling

While whittling my sphere and getting kind of desperate for my slow process I realize I unconsciously have become accustomed to the production processes being fast and objects being discarded after a short time. This takes me back to my concern about how industrial design sometimes harmfully feeds capitalism and overproduction. Trying to validate the creation of new needs as a way to “progress” I found a meeting point with two moments in history. First, the invention of photography (1800). Liberating art from the need to represent, it gave space to new artistic / social / historical needs. Two, the invention of the wheel (circa 3500 b. C). Those moment created an environment where something could evolve. So, to create new needs that guide to “evolution” is a valid design problem. However, the thin line between apparent progress and overproduction leaves us again at what I think should be the first design question nowadays: “is it really necessary?” I open the discussion.

Designerly Ways of Whittling

After reading “Designerly Ways of Knowing” I started thinking about whittling in terms of general design education. Since it is not a complicated activity to do, I thought that it can be used to teach design for high school students.

As mentioned in the article Peters suggested three principal criteria for education:

1-Worthwhile knowledge of some value must be transmitted.
In this case, while whittling I can say that “the art of making” is involved. You are literally “the maker”. Transforming an object with your hands.

2- Self-awareness and being aware of what and why student is learning.
You have to be self-aware for sure not to cut yourself while whittling. Also you need to know your limits and your power not to cause any long term injuries. When it comes to what and why, whittling is a great way to push a person to think as it happened to us all in the course. We may or may not grab knowledge at the end of process but still the process itself has its ways to teach. It even allows a free space for the person herself what to learn and what not to learn.

3- Knowing how vs. knowing that
Before starting whittling we might have watched a TV show or a video and somehow saw whittling. But now everybody learns how to turn a cube into a sphere. At the end of the process we will be “educated” in terms of what we grasped or saw while whittling.

work in progress

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I have rarely experience making 3D things by hand, I mean I usually do book binding or printing by hand, but not in wood. Making 3D object like this is new experience to me. Before I start whittling, I think it is just to cut of all angles, than the cube will turn into sphere. The imagination in my mind is that like using AI’s tool to let angles disappear, than that come into a sphere. However, when I start whittling the cube, I realized that it is totally not what I imaged.

One thing that I was not considering about is “texture”. Each angle has different “texture”, some of them are really easy to whittle, and some of them are hard to do so. Therefore, it is difficult to make all ankles look the same. And if they all look different, it is not like a sphere! So I realize that I need to observe the texture carefully, and try to understand deeply about this cube.

It is interesting. After reflect my whittling process, I found that the way I thinking is always using the perspective from graphic design. I am used to thinking things in 2D. And I start thinking that if I use some 3D concept into graphic design might let me found the new way to express my ideas.

I’ll keep working with my cube, and looking forward to see what else I can learn during this process.

Listening

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So much depends

upon

a careful cut on one

side

based on advice from

you

and what the wood

says.

(inspired by William Carlos Williams’s poem “The Red Wheelbarrow”)

I remember when Eric and Ajinkya were talking about not neglecting the corners and not staying too long on one side. I thought it was good advice, so I followed it. It would help me not overwork certain places and make the cube look a little more sphere-like instead of just a rounded cube. Working the corners especially helps with the latter.

In addition to listening to my fellow colleagues (classmates? that seems too juvenile; what shall I call y’all?), as I was whittling, I also realized that it’s important to listen to the wood itself. In the beginning, you kind of start hacking away without really having a plan, just making sure to round off the corners.

But as I kept whittling, I found myself asking the wood, “Ok, where do you want to be cut?” or, “Why are you splintering here? Am I cutting too hard against the grain?” and so on. I would then adjust how I cut certain parts of the wood, and even found myself really paying attention to the more difficult parts of the wood, patiently finding the grain and whittling little by little. Or maybe going a little easier on the parts where I’m cutting with the grain so I don’t cut off too much.

Relating it back to our respective fields, how much do we listen to those for whom we design? How much of our client/customer/user is actually reflected in the final product?

Or is it mostly yourself?

Work in Progress

View post on imgur.com

I have always admired to notion of craftsmanship, knowing all aspects of a certain material and how to treat it. Beside the uniqueness of final product, ability to take as much time as one needs feels like a great prerogative in the times of rapidity. In my case, as a Turkish student, being fast has always been the case. Growing up in a society that has considerable amount of young population, I needed to be fast to answer a question, in a test, during my education. I couldn’t lose a year in college or fail in an exam. My expected graduation date had to remain certain. Within that context I had to learn a lot and learn it as soon as possible during my undergraduate degree. As a result of this process, during my last year at college I came to a realization that I knew little about everything but I didn’t have a specific subject to practice. On the other hand I enjoyed being slow. Taking time to comprehend, filter and analyze gave more pleasure for what I am doing.

So in terms of whittling, when I first started I had the belief that the square would turn into a sphere. I also knew that it was going to take time but I imagined it was not going to be that long. As I continued, my perspective started to change. There had been times that I felt it would remain as a square forever or I would lose interest in doing it. However as a part of the course, I had an external force to complete it. So I tried to change my perspective on ways of doing it. I tried to whittle to relieve stress, to empty my mind or just to keep my hands busy. When I started not thinking about an object that has to change its form with the maker component, I noticed it started feeling easier. But of course at one point my mind returned to the question:

“Why am I doing this?”

My answer to that question changes every time I start holding the square and start whittling.

Crochet CATTt continued…

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Previously, I stated that I’m working against the culture of reinvention and focusing on how to invent through improvisation. Other fields such as jazz and cut-up poetry utilize improvisation to invent new music or a new literary experience. The basis is the same, but the result is always different.

THEORY:

  • My project is relying on inventing based on a given framework and them improvising on it to create something new.
  • Think about the sciences; upon inventing several scientific and mathematical concepts that we still use today, Isaac Newton said in 1676, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
  • It’s widely accepted that invention can be both a “Eureka!” moment as well as a chain reaction of several events and people, culminating with the “final” inventor who is in the right place at the right time with the right knowledge

TARGET:

  • I want to target the world of product design and challenge them (and myself) to keep inventing

TALE:

  • I would like to work with other crocheters (both experienced and beginners) to apply this method
  • Setting up a class or workshop I think would be good, so that I can see how others work within a different framework than their own.
  • This can be done in different ways:
    • Done in several stages, first teaching them the grammar and then having them create their own pattern map and then crocheting it
    • Giving them a map already generated and having them crochet it (give them yarn? Or BYOY?)
  • The main idea is to give them a framework where they can invent

Whittling and Design Process

Ajinkya Barve Whittling

I feel whittling as an activity resembles with the design process in an interesting way. Here I’ll demonstrate my thoughts with an example.

In a design process – we often start with an intent or an aim that we want to achieve. We do some research, understand the facts and study material/medium. This helps us comprehend the current status and the constraints. After doing the initial analysis, we chalk out a plan of action that would lead us to our final desired result. As we start working towards it, more & more insights start to unveil. These insights, make us take an informed decision on our next move. We dynamically adjust the actions to make sure we are on the right path towards our final motive.

And now in our current context – We started with an Intent which was to create a sphere from a block of wood. While whittling, we started by examining the current status and contrarians while working on wood. Ex. How wood grains affect and help the whittling. After analysing and studying the block we created a plan of action. Ex. Something like finding the centre, creating a circle, then starting with all edges and corners first, also trying to maintain symmetry as we start carving. Now every time we carved out a tiny chunk of wood we observe and redefine our next step, which would lead us to that perfect sphere we all aspire. Every step we took was like an insightful feedback for our journey towards the final product.

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While whittling my sphere and getting kind of desperate for my slow process I realize I unconsciously have become accustomed to the production processes being fast and objects being discarded after a short time. This takes me back to my concern about how industrial design sometimes harmfully feeds capitalism and overproduction. Trying to validate the creation of new needs as a way to “progress” I found a meeting point with two moments in history. One, the invention of the wheel (circa 3500 b. C). Two, the invention of photography (1800). Liberating art from the need to represent, it gave space to new artistic / social / historical needs.  Those moment created an environment where something could evolve. So, to create new needs that guide to “evolution” is a valid design problem. However, the thin line between apparent progress and overproduction leaves us again at what I think should be the first design question nowadays: “is it really necessary?” I open the discussion.