Sunday, November 27, 2011

Kachina Dolls and Carving Them...

Hopi, (literally translated) means a person who behaves in a polite or peaceful way. The Hopi are a communal farming people who reside on and near three mesas in northeastern Arizona. More than nine thousand Hopi live on a 1.5 million-acre reservation that encompasses a dozen villages.
The word kachina (kah-chee-nah) has long been used by outsiders to refer to any of the hundreds of spiritual beings central to Hopi religious life as well as to the dolls that depict them. However, according to the Hopi, katsina (kahts-ee-nah) is more correct and preferred. In English, the plural of kachina is kachinas, but in the Hopi language the plural of katsina is katsinam.

The first known kachina dolls were obtained by traders in 1857. From then on others were picked up sporadically until about the end of the 19th century. Little is known about these except that they were basically simple in style, with slightly detailed masks and simplified bodies. 

How Kachina dolls are made

Kachina doll making today involves both tradition and artistry. Kachina dolls are traditionally carved from the roots of cottonwood trees which once were abundant on and near the Hopi lands. The Hopi word for cottonwood root is paako, which means water wood, and the cotton-wood root's ability to seek and find abundant water mirrors the ability of the katsinam to do the same for the Hopi people.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Importance of the PENCIL

The importance of the pencil sharpener has always been underrated.
I remember a story about Werner von Braun when he was working for Adolph Hitler designing the V1  rockets during World War 2. Money was very tight and only available for items vital to the project.
One day he ordered a "milling machine" to be used for shaping small wooden dowels. When his request was approved he went out and bought a pencil sharpener.
Al Limiero

Artisanal Pencil Sharpening

Click here for details.

"Little Shaver" Pencil Sharpener

A century ago, pencil sharpeners held a much more important role in daily life than they do now, since the pencil was then the predominant writing implement.   Read the rest click here

Sunday, November 13, 2011


His illuminating hobby -- lighthouse carving

Vincent Keating, 81, of Stony Brook, has spent
Photo credit: Gwen Young |  Vincent Keating, 81, of Stony Brook, has spent the past 15 years or so crafting dioramas that are built around a lighthouse. He donates them to those whos spirits need lifting. (Oct. 13, 2011)
Vincent Keating's woodworking skills have earned him a nickname from his friends -- Geppetto, after the fictional woodcarver who created a wooden puppet named Pinocchio. But the 81-year-old Stony Brook resident doesn't mind a bit; the only thing that matters about his hobby is that it makes people happy.
After retiring from his career as a Long Island Rail Road ticket agent, Keating combined his love of woodworking and his fondness for Long Island lighthouses into gifts for friends, as well as strangers.
Each wooden lighthouse is set in a box frame and surrounded by miniature holiday scenes and popular themes to please adults and children alike. There's a World War II scene, complete with tiny airplanes ready to take flight, a snow-covered Christmas theme, and pieces that are inspired by popular children's movies such as "Pirates of the Caribbean," "March of the Penguins" and "Cinderella."