® A Day in the Life: Student of the Little Pieces

I took a lot of industrial arts, that is, shop type, classes, when I was in junior high and high school. I think I took them all: metalworking, jewelrymaking, pottery, sheet metal, welding, drafting, electronics, woodworking, fiberglass, motorcycle and auto repair, print shop, machine shop, plastics, you name it I took it. I and my peers built canoes, archery bows, gun cabinets. We learned to bend sheet metal into toolboxes, centrifuge precious metals into lost wax molds. "Throw" clay. In fact, in my senior year I was in shop class more or less all day, and of course I didn't graduate that way. Flunked History, among others, mainly because I was never there. Took me a lot longer than my peers to get that HS diploma. But I didn't care. I recall one high school carpentry course wherein all the students would converge on an actual job site (in the San Fernando valley) four out of five mornings, to work on room additions. I remember it like it was yesterday. Sitting in the bed of one of the student's pickup trucks as a load of us blasted through the cold morning, him peeling rubber and getting squirrely. He loved to power that warmed up big block through corners. What a blast! On classroom days the instructor would often find me at the shop bandsaw, cutting up small pieces of wood for use in an inlay project, something out of place in that class but which I would ultimately take a lot of interest in. Marquetry and inlay, that is. The instructor would start yelling at me to watch out I don't cut my fingers. Well, one time I looked up and said, "You are a teacher of big wood pieces; I am a student of the little pieces.". Thinking about it, I am still that today. A student of the little pieces. One who for example passes over whole vintage bike restoration, in favor of one tiny aspect of it, carburetors. It definitely helps explain why I favor one over the other.

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