Sunday, April 28, 2019

2019 Bates College Short Term

I have reprised my college Japanese boatbuilding class at a different school for a different time of year. Having taught this class three times at Middlebury College during Winter Term I am here in spring in Lewiston, Maine at Bates College. Bates runs a five-week semester called Short Term. Like Middlebury, students take just one class. We meet four days a week. My class of fourteen is divided into two sessions (too many students to keep busy at once) and we all meet once a week for a discussion of the readings, journals, and students' final papers. I am specifically working for an initiative called the Center for Purposeful Work as a Practitioner-Teacher. You can read the full course description here.

Had to amend our original boat design when I got here, saw the space, and realized we could never get the boat out of the room. Each section is now building its own 22-foot river boat from Niigata Prefecture. These were used by farmers for a variety of roles in an area of once-expansive wetlands.

Students begin fitting the bottom planks using handsaws, a key Japanese boatbuilding technique.

Some of our selection of tools.

Chiseling mortises for our edge-nails.

When not working directly on the boat, students are expected to be sharpening.

Piloting nails holes with special chisels called tsubanomi.

The first group edge-nailing their bottom planks.

The second group pounding the plank edges, the last step before nailing.


  1. What an inspired, wonderful art/ craft/ mindfulness practise. We would like to join your class!

  2. This is the art everyone would definitely love. The little one should learn the process from the very childhood.

  3. The joint work of the students will help them learn to work in a team focused on obtaining a common result.

  4. The fact that during the project you changed many parameters tells me that you strive for excellence and that is why you are doing better and more beautiful than you originally planned.


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