My craft room is crammed full of all my most favourite treasures and tchotchkes, which are fun to look at and reminisce. I was sitting at my craft table the other day and I spied the metal & enameled mushroom I made in the 7th grade.
I think a lot of schools have been forced to do away with shop classes due to money, but in the 70s when the brand new Sandwich High School opened in the fall of 1976, school districts were flush with money and kids could take shop classes.
When I entered 7th grade that fall, my course schedules put me in 4 different shop-type classes in each quarter till the spring. I had Home Ec which I hated, Art which I sucked at, Wood Shop and Metal Shop. I don't have anything left that I made in wood shop, but we were taught how to use all the tools like bansaws and so forth. We wore goggles and took safety very seriously. I never remember the teachers having to yell at anyone for dangerous tool-play. I remember making a cutting board, a bread knife made from a piece of saw blade, and this silly little toy called a 'do nothing machine' which was actually quite clever.
This is the only thing I have left of the stuff I made in metal shop, which included a twisted brass bracelet and a lantern that we had to hammer nails in to make a design like old fashioned lanterns.
I was examining this mushroom and it hit me that I was only 12 years old when I made this. First we had to hammer, shape and solder the brass base, which is about 2" tall. Then cut, hammer and shape the metal top.
Then sprinkle the enamel powder on top, melt it, and add the enamel threads.
I'm pretty proud of this seam. I loved to solder.
Industrial strength adhesive was used to glue the top and the bottom.
This project made me wonder if these classes are offered anymore and do they really teach children to use lethal saws and blow torches? I was 12 in 7th grade...most of my classmates were 13. That's still really, really young. Yet no one thought anything of it. We were excited to learn how to do these things, safely, and our parents received as gifts all the stuff we made. There wasn't a single complaint from the community or self righteous parent thinking that it was 'too dangerous' to let kids use blow torches.
Just more proof that the 70s were better than now when it came to 'live and let live'.