Michaela Merz

Anyone can be a carpenter

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The Gewerbemuseum in Winterthur has a new exhibition of cupboards. Last Sunday one could learn to be a carpenter at speed and construct a small cupboard oneself. We all went there with my youngest. It snowed the whole day and the temperature was low. We were happy to arrive in the warmth of the museum. A small group of curious people gathered on the second Sunday in Advent for a carpentry afternoon.

The workshop was located on the top floor of the building, right under the roof, and was not heated. The sloping windows were all covered in snow. I kept my warm beret on the whole time but despite this felt an unpleasant coldness.

The leader of our course was patient and had a gift for teaching. The few young boys (there were no girls), all younger than 12, wanted to get on with the work without further delay. But the adults (almost all women) at first had a thousand questions. The boys became impatient.

And then we began to handle the various files and saws and the cupboards slowly began to take shape. No, they did not turn out as impressive and beautiful as those in the exhibition, but for the makers they are a lot more valuable.

What I learned that afternoon was that children deal with handwork much more spontaneously and that they have scarcely any inhibitions when working with machines. The adult ladies measured everything ten times before they cut anything. For them perfection and precision were important. After 3 to 3 ½ hours almost all the boys had finished their construction, while many of the ladies had completed only about half of the work.

Yes, it’s true, in only one afternoon one can construct a small cupboard, even if one has two left hands. The next course is in March:

try it for yourself!

 

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