Saturday, March 31, 2012

ASFM Student Humor

I have a lot of fun in my business. I enjoy working with fine furniture and solving challenging problems. I take pride in the results, so there is a serious side to the job. However, when I teach students in the American School of French Marquetry, I try to bring humor into the discussion, and find it extremely interesting how the different personalities respond to my approach. Sometimes it works and sometimes it dies a slow death.

Over the years, I have resorted to a few "pat" jokes (pun intended) to spice up the lecture. I admit that these are not really the kind of jokes that will earn me a television series, but, in the context of the class, they provide a kind of break in the day.

The first "joke" usually comes at the lunch break on Monday. Since the historic business community, North Park, where my business is located, has become a major attraction for excellent and upscale places to eat, I always draw a map on the chalk board and discuss the options. The closest place to eat is directly across the street from the shop, KFC. It was also one of the first places to open some 30 years ago. I should point out that the KFC is West of me and we usually have a mild ocean breeze blowing from the West. After some 30 years of the "aroma" of KFC filling the shop, I have developed an aversion to their food. So, I start out with a variation of the joke as follows: "You can eat at KFC, but don't come back to school." Then I point out all the other great places nearby.

OK, not much of a joke. I warned you.

So, since all the class I students are required to make a Boulle picture of their face, I received a portrait of the Colonel executed by a student which I now use to illustrate the bad joke. The marquetry is better than the joke.

Another "joke" is used to generalize the typical motifs found in American marquetry. Perhaps I will be accused of being an elitist, but I am not trying to be mean. I just want American artisans to expand their horizons. Think outside the box. Explore your creativity.

What I mean is that, in looking at many, many examples of marquetry, I began to realize that a majority of them had 4 essential elements: Boat, lake, tree and mountain. Patrice and I became obsessed with looking at marquetry online, watching "how to do it" videos, and looking at marquetry newsletters, to find examples. We would score them, from 1 to 4, depending on how many elements of the "required" motifs were used. For example, we would say: "It has a nice tree, big mountain and a lake, but where's the boat? I give it a 3."

Not very nice, but it makes a "joke" that I use to illustrate to my students how they can use the French methods to add more sophisticated elements to their design.

So I just received a nice card from a recent student, who enclosed his project: "Marquetry in America, a study of the relationship between the lake, the mountain, the boat and the tree." He included a note that included this disclaimer: "Not submitted for adjudication. Just for fun."

Is it me or does the boat remind you of an Italian cruise ship? Anyway, we gave it a 4.

Take life seriously, but be sure to have fun while you're living it.


shipwright said...

Hi Patrick

Any day you can make a friend smile is a good day. Glad you got a chuckle.


W. Patrick Edwards said...

Chuckle? Patrice and I spent the morning laughing!

Thank you, Paul, for sending this treat. We will hang it with honor in the school. Now, when I give that part of the lecture where I joke about American marquetry, I have a perfect visual to explain what good art is.

I know that, as a boat builder, it was difficult to draw a boat sinking. I hope you get the therapy you need.

Keep cutting.