The Woodworking Life

The Woodworking Life

Opening Gambits

comments (3) September 25th, 2009 in blogs

pboeckh Peter Boeckh, Contributor
thumbs up 14 users recommend

An Apple a Day...
By Tyler Duperron
An Apple a Day...
By Tyler Duperron
Art Furniture
By Saarinen Balagengatharadilak
An Apple a Day...
By Tyler Duperron - CLICK TO ENLARGE

An Apple a Day...

By Tyler Duperron

Photo: Sarah Thorpe

Opening Gambits

I write their first assignment up on the board beneath an isometric sketch of a simple, square table.

Design a table, any table, and then draw it in 3-D.

While they are busy at their task, I go rummaging in the back of the shop for an empty cardboard box. Finding a suitable one, I label the backside with a large black magic marker.

Finally they are done and hand in their efforts. Without a glance I toss them all in the box. I will look at them in a moment, but I already know what I’ve got. Nervously fidgeting in their seats, they wonder if they did it "right" and how many marks will it count for.

I ask them to read aloud again what the assignment was.

Design a table, any table, and then draw it in 3-D.

As I open the box to review their designs with them, I turn it so that they can read what I had written on the back.


In unison their heads all drop in discouragement. Maybe I’ve gone too far. Although I want to make a point, I don’t want to crush them either. One by one I pull out their drawings. Every single one is a rectangular four legged table. Very, very boring. Tossing them all back into the box, I tape it closed with duct tape, using way more than necessary for the task. I call up the little kid in the back and hand him the box. He is sent off to quickly get rid of them all in the dumpster outside. No marks today.

We talk a bit about conformity, taking risks, thinking outside the box...

Tomorrow they will learn how to brainstorm.

This past July, two of those kids nervously boarded a plane at the Toronto airport. One had never been on a plane in his life. Selected as finalists in the AWFS (Association of Woodworking and Furniture Suppliers) biennial student competition, they were now flying halfway across the continent for the final judging in Las Vegas.

One of them received a second place for his piece, "Art Furniture." The other one, the one who had never even been on a plane before, took Best in Show for his "An Apple a Day," The first time a high school student has ever won the top award.

posted in: blogs, AWFS, design, furniture, teaching, tables, students

Comments (3)

mrossk mrossk writes: I agree that it's good and necessary to "think outside the box." However, sometimes being different, or unique, or "weird", for it's own sake simply leads to a lot of junk. With all the references to Krenov recently, remember what he said about "design"? If I may loosely paraphrase, that one doesn't have to be all that inventive- it's more about caring and doing it well... I'm not trying to bash the above idea about innovation- but, in my opinion, it should be tempered by an appreciation of quality and caring.
Posted: 10:42 am on September 29th

ATorrez ATorrez writes: Please keep pushing your students towards excellence, it is encouraging to see high school students creating such exciting and innovative pieces, and it is a reminder that they are capable given encouragement and support.
Posted: 12:49 pm on September 28th

BetsyE BetsyE writes: What a great story. And even better tables!
Posted: 12:28 pm on September 28th

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