Japanese Craft & Invention

Eli Whitney Museum

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2019 Summer Program

Japan has a powerful tradition of precision craft. This workshop will experiment with customs, games and training from Japan that help develop the patience, persistence and dexterity that prepare hands for meticulous work.

The inspiration: Pitagora Suitchi (ピタゴラスイッチ) is an educational television program for children (like Sesame Street) that features Rube Goldberg-like machines in short segments. The devices are constructed with marbles, tracks, common household objects and brilliant ingenuity. The devices look simple.

Construct an artful tool box to organize your tracks, marbles, dominoes and useful parts. Then test your inventiveness. Start by yourself, then work in pairs, and then teams. The goal for the week: a 100 track relay.

Enrich your work with new training for your fingers. Practice the basic brushwork of Japanese calligraphy each morning. Cut a hanko (判子), a traditional stamp, to mark your pieces. Learn fresh origami (折り紙) paper folds. Learn to play Otedama (お手玉), a bean bag game that plays like jacks to develop quick fingers. Learn new playground games. Observe the work of Japanese artisans that captures the power of disciplined learning.

With Midori Hughes

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