Annual Appeal 2019

Eli Whitney Museum

Show Menu
Thumbnail of Annual Appeal 2019 project

Each year we write to thank you for all that children have built here with your support and to ask for your continued help. We try to compress into a few words and images the essence of our work. This year we have enclosed the work itself – an experiment that captures our purpose.

The Top.
Tops are ancient. They were mastered well before writing and reading. They are universal. Every culture created tops in distinct forms and materials but always as evidence of common curiosity and dexterity. Tops became instruments of invention, sport, gambling and divination. But why?

Tops define the pleasure of learning. They reward discipline, persistence and mastery. Beyond that, tops reveal our capacity to create transcendent calm. A spinning top captures our attention so deeply that – for a few seconds – external expectations, the mire of news and the cacophony of social media evaporate.

When you support our workshop, you give children tools and materials to create and express themselves, to understand the world around them. That understanding, in turn, helps children build peace of mind. In an age of anxiety, that is a precious gift.

Bill Brown – Sally Hill

Some of our needs are simple.
There are others.

Two laser cutters.
The paper discs were cut on our 60 watt Laser Cutter with precision that exceeds 1/1000th of an inch. An 80 watt Laser will join it in December. The new machine will be 4 times faster.

10 year-olds designed and produced Buzzers(spinners) on the Laser Cutter.

Five 3D printers.
9-12 year olds produced variations of these 3D tops on 3D Printers.

Eighteen oak trees.
The Oak trees on our 7 acre site provided a bumper crop of acorns which became classic spinners.

Ninety apprentices.
Each Apprentice brings a unique skill. Elliot has trained both students and Apprentices in classic wood turning. Jon mastered and then taught the construction of Origami tops. Chloe translated the catalogs of Boutique éphémère de toupies. Midori is translating the spinning top Dictionary from Japanese.

Fifteen lathes.
Tops, lathes and potter’s wheels are all intertwined. We built 12 micro-lathes to turn wooden tops.We also make potters wheels.

Twelve cases of donated surplus cover stock.
We used a miniscule part of a donation of 60# cover stock that waited 15 years to find its use as a perfect paper for Laser cutting. At least 200 other surplus items are still waiting for their special purpose.

Percentages estimate the distribution of our Annual Fund.

55% – Play connects people.
The Open Workshop Fund reduces or eliminates fees for programs for schools or families. Everyone needs play.

18% – Play is exchanged hand to hand.
The Apprentice Fund supports young leaders learning technical skills, teamwork, creativity and a passion for teaching others.

6% Play can break barriers.
The Catherine Greene Fund supports girls mastering activities traditionally associated with boys and to play as they want to.

11% – Play can engage every child.
The Jack Viele Fund provides extra hands to overcome the small and substantial obstacles that might exclude children.

10% – Play connects children to the environment.
The Stewardship Fund trains Apprentices to care for our site. The site’s rich diversity engages all the senses of children at play.

Back to Top