Monday, October 3, 2011

Rhythm In Our Home : Handwork Day

I thought I would return to our weekly rhythm for this week. Thursday is our handwork day, well it was until our school year started but since I already did the Wednesday is drawing day post I thought I would just carry on this way.

According to Steiner's aesthetic, each artistic creation should capture the vitality, fluid beauty, and uniqueness that living organisms manifest. While machine-made goods are uniform, handmade things are beautiful by virtue of their irregularity. A hand-carved wooden bowl or spoon, a hand-knitted scarf or hat, a wall that has been lazured (i.e., painted with many layers of thin watercolor washes), a piece of hand-dyed cloth-each of which can be found in a typical Waldorf classroom-express this sensibility. Natural materials such as wood rather than synthetic materials such as plastic also support this aesthetic. For this reason, in a Waldorf school the children's desks and chairs are usually made of unpainted wood so that the natural beauty of the grain can show. In their crafts and handwork, the children-beginning in the kindergarten-use natural materials such as beeswax, clay, and unspun wool-and experience with their hands the living beauty of the natural world.

The importance of handwork in the Waldorf curriculum is related to the dichotomy of the machine-made and the handmade product. The very imperfection of handmade goods is a mark of dignity and bears witness to the limitations that make the artisan-and all of us, by extension-human. When the first grader finger-crochets a circular mat, or when the sixth grader learns to cut a pattern and sew together a stuffed animal, mistakes inevitably arise and corrections and revisions are made. These provide lessons in humility-in the original sense of the word-derived as it is from humus, Latin for "earth." The child's experience of fallibility is an experience of her relationship to the rest of nature. It is this relationship, this connection that Steiner and other thinkers of his day realized the machine would alter.

Also, the children experience in handwork class the absolute uniqueness of each human being. Given the same materials and the same instruction and employing the same methods, a class of fifteen children will create fifteen unique pieces of work.

Excerpt from History, Humanity, and Handwork By Carmine Iannaccone

Handwork day may be my personal favorite. Although, I can't speak for the girls - their favorite day seems to change weekly. Handwork day seems to be the day with the most variety as well as a day when we actually get things done that some may see as chores or work. For example - bees waxing our wooden bowls, plates and spoons gets done once a month on this day and we sanded and bees waxed my desk a couple of Thursdays ago. These tasks are fun for the girls, for the most part, but C will lose interest faster than K. K is at an age where she thrives on helping out and doing 'adult things'. She also needs a bit more responsibility around the house.

I mentioned on my previous craft day post that some of our craft and handwork projects are interchangeable. This is an added bonus for my girls and I as we love to spend as much time creating as possible, so basically having two days a week of creating things with our hands (instead of just one) works out really well. Of course we all pretty much create something or other daily but this is the time when it is a deliberate act done by all three of us at the same time.

Our handwork projects change with the seasons and our moods but we have been know to do the following:

needle felt
make and play with play dough
play with modeling beeswax
finger knit
wet felt
create pine needle ornaments
braid wool
bees waxing

Those are just some examples that come to mind right now, and of course there are many variations of each one of the above mentioned, but I know we have done much more.

Do any of you have a handwork day or craft day in your rhythm? How often do you do it?

Please remember - this is just our family rhythm and what works for us at the moment. This isn't meant to be hard and fast rules on how rhythm should go in every one or any one's homes. I just thought to share it because I receive quite a few e-mails asking about our home rhythm, and I also just wanted it documented for myself so that I may remember these times when they are older and/or on to another rhythm.

Thank you, again, for joining me in the rhythm fun! Here is the linky list. If you have a (new or old) link you would like to share about your family rhythm, please enter it below so that we all may see. Then please link back here in your post. I look forward to seeing your inspiration!
Thanks friends!

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