Review of Statement of Practice – Maxwell’s Silver Hammer by Edward Allington

I found Edward Allington’s prolific descriptions of hammers eloquent and deeply informative. I was captivated by his analysis of how hammers harness physics at the intersection of the hands, the mind and materials. I used his statement, “Tools are a mediating mechanism between aim, both literally and conceptually, a material and an action” as systems thinking to make tools to cast large paper funnels. Combined with his reference to Richard Serras conceptual use of verbs as ‘tools’, my hands were set in motion.

aim: big [graduate school] focus: [march 9th review]

conceptual: [receive – nurture – process]

material: abaca pulp

action: support, filter, press, cast, suspend, circulate, release, light

Although my mind did wander during the breadth and depth of descriptions, they sparked a brainstorm on an improvisational tool to felt wool. The aim is to compress and tangle the wool fibers into a dense matt.  When done by hand, it takes hard labor to impose adequate compression and friction. As I day dream, I wonder if the principle seen in the dead blow hammer where a cylinder contains lead shot might deliver extra compression to the wool fibers? What if the “heavy blow” was delivered along the length of a fluted tube? The answer, after an initial prototype most likely would be yet another prototype. Who knows if it would work?

The series of questions in the first paragraph is where I lingered. “Do children or adults know or have an understanding of how things are made?” As well as the rebuke that children must “understand that the world we inhabit is a product of labor.” I ask, “What transpires when “labor” does not accumulate in things?” Today, America’s primary labor is consumption of services. As a population of consumers whose energy demand stresses the ecosystem, the refrigerator Allington references, is an outdated tool. If we aim to achieve a zero carbon footprint, do the children of today have the conceptual tools to redesign a cooling device that reduces reliance on an inefficient electrical grid? Shall we work to prompt creative education and hope the next generation of children is as passionate as Edward Allington?