The Building Begins!

The students spent the morning hard at work continuing their progress from yesterday, focused on developing their ideas for the playground shelters by crafting their wood and cardboard models and their trace paper drawings. The shop was quite a center of design productivity! 


Anu and Branham work together to test the accuracy of their scale models.

Marina cuts structural ribs from cardboard.

We worked hard until late morning, took a brief break (with donuts from Rob), and then walked around the NARL facility discussing the various structural conditions we could see, observing post and beam constructions, trusses, space frames, rafters, and all manner of bracing (or what happens when there is none). The students got back to work on their models while Rob and I tagged tools with their names in Inupiaq for practice. 

Helping Mike O. make a barrel vaulted roof by scoring materials.

April's finely crafted shelter frames.

After lunch, we divided into two groups. One continued to work on their drawings and models, while the second got geared up with safety equipment, tool belts, and typical carpenter tools for their first construction lessons with Nick. They started by learning to measure and cut with the radial arm saw, and practiced drilling and cutting with a jig saw to create the first of our sled base skis.

Construction begins! Half the team gets decked out in their tool belts for their first tool use and safety lessons. 

Dennis using a jig saw to cut holes for a forklift in the first ski, while Rob, Anu, Billy, and Mike O. look on.

In the late afternoon we were treated to a guest presentation. Billy's aunt, Roberta Leavitt, came by to talk to us about traditional skin boats and how she and her crew make the threads from caribou sinew and sew the boat covers from seal skins, sometimes working for more than 24 hours straight. She showed photos and was wonderful to listen to, teaching not only about her craft but about her values, how a good heart and respectful behavior lead the whales to give themselves to the hunters to feed the community. 

We gave Roberta a camp t-shirt and brought her to the shop to show her our work so far. When we mentioned to her that we were hoping to try to use traditional materials in the design, if we could obtain them somehow, she generously offered to donate four large chunks of baleen to the project. Billy, Rob, and I went to her house to pick it up, and she and her husband showed us more of the traditional tools they make and use.

Roberta tells Rob and Billy about the homemade harpoon, which is smaller than typical because it was made for one of her young grandsons.

Baleen! We've got our work cut out for us preparing this for use on the structures. The first step is soaking it in salt water for about a week.