But to Replicate the Facility

I flew into Bucharest and caught a long ride north with Mihai Bodea, our documentarian, through the broad, flat Moldavian tableland along the Siret River. In addition to breathtaking views of the Carpathian Mountains in the far west, I caught a few glimpses of distinctive Romanian traditions: vineyards; market fairs by the side of the road; lots of small roadside stands selling onions, peppers, grapes, melons, and other produce; and the iconic caruta horse carts the country is famous for. Many people still use horses in daily life as a practical option, part of a widespread living tradition of regional self-sufficiency. This way of life also manifests itself in other ways such as keeping a home milk cow, scything hay, keeping a vegetable garden, and tending fruit trees. Today, these traditions are kept alive not out of curiosity or as quaint anachronisms, but because of local poverty and remote location. In the more developed areas they are fading fast.

....Most participants arrived with the few tools they would need for the project – a plumb bob, dividers, rule, gauge, chisel, carpenter’s axe, and hewing axe.  The carpenter’s axe saw the most use, while the broad axe was used primarily for getting a smooth, final surface. Everyone was comparing and borrowing tools, in order to learn more about the craft, and this sort of interaction is part of the goal of CSF – to bring people together in an effort to help piece together a historical understanding of tools and work through active dialogue and participatory exploration. It’s easy to understand how beams were hewn long ago, and almost anyone can do it, but some historical accounts tell us that the same work was accomplished in the past three times faster than the best of us can do it today. Understanding how to get to the point of being able to not only replicate the result, but to replicate the facility with which it was accomplished, involves reassembling a kind of practical familiarity that can only come through shared physical experience and study of motion. 

– Will Lisak, excerpt from “Carpentry Without Borders: An Exploration of Traditional Timber Framing in Romania,” in Four Through Six


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