Sewing: Kinkachu

The kinkachu is a type of Japanese omiyage or gift bag.  We currently have five in stock. They’re $60 + shipping. Many would be suitable bags for DOGD-style Coelbren letters, or Viking runes, for sortilege. They’re all 100% cotton fabric, and the interior of each bag is about the size of a closed human fist.

You can also ask us to make you one in a desired color palette.

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PD and apprenticeship

The typical model for teachers to get additional training is to send them to a workshop. The teachers sit in rows, and listen to a single person’s or sometimes a group, for few hours. Each teacher walks away with one or two small ideas that might change their teaching practice, or might not. These changes will usually be small, and may not survive the school year. It is expensive, terms of travel and teaching time: a substitute needs to be hired, travel expenses need to be paid, and your school may not get what they need from the training.

When the success or failure of a MakerSpace is on the line (often with tens of thousands of dollars invested in tools, equipment, and space) professional development is a real gamble. There’s a very good chance that you won’t get the skills you need to run your MakerSpace effectively; or that the skills your teachers learn won’t be flexible to the equipment and tools that you have; or that you will get a one-trick pony, that can only do one thing.

Here’s why: teachers are experts in their chosen field, whether that be history or early childhood education, math or library science. But there is a very good chance, study suggest better-than-average, that your teachers don’t Make anything. They do not know how, or they know but do not want to. The ones who do make things, treat the Making that they do, as a hobby or as something that belongs to “outside-school” time, and they don’t want to cross the streams of hobby and profession.

For teachers — and just about everyone else — Making requires apprenticeship. All of our first efforts are bad. Pick the wrong wood, or the wrong color paint, or the wrong kind of plastic for the 3-D printer. We make the rookie mistakes — we did for a few years, ourselves. A third grader does not care that their work is “bad “, but a teacher (almost any adult, really) does. And the teacher is often afraid that their work will look bad to a student.

Everyone has a first year of teaching; everyone knows that the first year is the worst of your career.  Consciously or unconsciously, most teachers know that learning to be a maker will be like their first year of teaching all over again. A one-day workshop will not help; a better solution is daily or weekly guided instruction from someone who has already made some of the mistakes.  A model of master-and-apprentices, and the gradual introduction of journeymen and journey-women into the system, stands a much better chance of success than a single person in the artisan’s shop.

We can provide a range of options from one-on-one consulting and coaching, to regularly-scheduled workshops for your faculty over the course of the year. Contact us: we can help you.

Building a MakerSpace

Let’s say you’re part of an institution — a church, a library, a school — that’s decided to start a MakerSpace. You’ve read all the books, skimmed numerous articles, watched all the videos, and gotten the go-ahead from your stakeholders. You hired a contracting company, and the workmen are going to be ripping out walls and installing new electrical wiring any week now. You are completely confident in your plan, and you are sure that you have thought of everything. 

But what if you haven’t?

There are at least seventeen major errors that we are aware of, that most schools and libraries have failed to think about. Many of them have to do with the curious blind spots these organizations have with regard to planning for maker spaces and maker programs.  And unfortunately, the more money the organization is throwing us for your Mischel launch of their maker space, the more likely it is that they will make a greater number of these serious mistakes. Shortsighted thinking in favor of “building is now “can lead to costly and painful decision making later on. It can hamper the growth of the maker space program, and it can block it from becoming fully integrated into the institution’s existing program.

email us, or give us a phone call. Guide you through our checklist of common problems, risks , and opportunities.  For our low introductory consulting fee, we’ll guide you through the shoals where you are navigating blind. 

Chapbook: The Tai Chi Poem

We’re pleased to report that Amazon.com is now carrying Andrew Watt’s chapbook under our imprint, The Tai Chi Poem.

Andrew writes:

In 2014, I composed sixty-two sonnets describing the process of moving through the tai chi form that I first learned in 1998 in northeastern Connecticut.  That sonnet sequence is now available as a downloadable Kindle file from Amazon.com.

Like most of my sonnets, these are Shakespearean or Elizabethan sonnets, in iambic pentameter with a rhyme scheme running ABABCDCDEFEFGG.  Some portions of the sequence may be useful to tai chi teachers for creating effective mnemonics for their own students, but I don’t recommend trying to learn tai chi from reading the poems aloud or reciting them.  Some things are better left to professionals rather than me.  I also think the poems are quite beautiful on their own.  My goal, overall, was to create something akin or in the tradition of the traditional martial arts and tai chi manuals, a combination of simple diagrams and poetic descriptions of the movements. The work is dedicated to my teacher, Laddie Sacharko of Star Farm Tai Chi.  The tai chi poem will always be available exclusively from Amazon in print form.

Chapbook: Poems for the Behenian Stars

Watermountain Studios is proud to announce the publication of Poems for the Behenian Stars by Andrew B. Watta collection of 18 poems about and for the traditional wisdom associated with the fifteen brightest stars in the northern celestial hemisphere.

The digital PDF is available for immediate download through the Etsy.com website, for the low-low price of $10.  A paper edition may be forthcoming.