Sunday, March 23, 2014

Working With My Hands

I'm officially on Spring break, and not a moment too soon. I don't know if it's this never ending Winter or the fact that I'm over-committed and overwhelmed, but I can never seem to get enough sleep. I'm planning on catching up over break, as well as attempting to finish some projects for class. Hopefully, productivity won't get overlooked in favor of nap time.

Even though it's officially Spring according to the calendar, the snow still falls and I feel like I'll be wearing my giant down parka forever. We've had a few nice days, though. On Tuesday Ivey and I took our lunch out on the stoop at the Morgan and ate with the wonderfully warm sun shining on our faces. It's important to enjoy each nice day as it comes.

After lunch, we started planting Tororo-Aoi seeds. Tororo can be used as a formation aid in Eastern papermaking. A formation aid is necessary in order to keep the fibers suspended evenly in the vat so that uniform sheets can be pulled without having to constantly stir. We've been using PMP, a synthetic formation aid, thus far, but the Tororo seeds should eventually turn into something we can use as a natural formation aid.

Ivey and I also worked on gluing, plugging, sanding, and varnishing the papermaking frames that Tom made. All the sawdust and elbow grease made me feel very industrious. It also reminded me of my grandpa, who was an amazing, self-taught woodworker and enthusiastic gardener. I feel like I'm following in his footsteps, and I'm learning how much I really love working with my hands. There's something wholly satisfying about putting your hands in the dirt or making something that serves a purpose. It makes one feel self-sufficient and able, something I think I lost along the way while working at a desk all the time, staring at a computer. I love every bit of working at the Morgan because I'm always learning something new and I'm using both my brains and body. I can feel myself growing stronger from lifting buckets full of water and loading the hydraulic presses with heavy wooden boards. My body feels functional in a way that it hasn't since I had back surgery two years ago. Sitting all day at a desk like I do for my regular job makes my lower back ache. Physical labor makes me feel competent, empowered, and healthy. I even have a smile on my face while I'm scrubbing out vats and cleaning the pots we cook fiber in. Honestly, I could do this kind of work all day, every day and never tire of it.

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