The craft of sculpture combines geometry, math, anatomy and woodwork. Woodwork, as a special subject, begins in fifth grade and follows through twelfth grade. Students first complete a hickory carver’s mallet, a maple serving spoon, and a bowl or chest of various shapes and woods. The fundamental tools they use are hand saws, chisels, gouges, rasps, files and sandpaper. With these tools, the students learn to shape, smooth and polish wood. The underlying goal is to teach the students patience, perseverance and pride in their work.
After these three projects, the lessons help students develop drawing skills related to woodworking. Each student creates simple three-dimensional sketches that they can translate into solid forms of wood. Students carve a simple bird, fish or animal. During this time, students begin to learn more complex tools and techniques. They may learn to whittle, using a variety of knives, and the basic methods for finishing wood with oils, waxes and paints.
By seventh grade, students are challenged to further refine their skills through increasingly difficult designs. Students may work with scale models and caricatures. The class will introduce basic safety and use of power tools. By the end of the eighth grade, students complete a project involving scale modeling or creating a toy or mechanism with moving parts. The woodworking curriculum stresses realism with animal carvings. It teaches advanced techniques for hand tools and whittling knives. The lessons encouraged students to develop problem-solving skills in mechanical designs and woodworking techniques.
High School students study woodwork for about seven weeks each year based on their block rotations. The ninth grade learns furniture working by building a simple four-legged stool. This is done using power tools including drills, saws and sanders. The goal is to give the students confidence, and teach woodworking skills and safe operation of machines and techniques.
The ninth-grade stools double as a community service project. The students decorate each one at a grade-appropriate level and give them to a class.
Tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade students complete a carved sculpture of the human form. This project is intended to complement the students’ science blocks in anatomy and physiology.
The carving will display a gesture and emotion intended to bring artistic expression into the scientific experience of the human form. This project requires all of the block time in these three final years of high school.