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Hand Craft: An English Exposition Of Slojd, by John, D. Sutcliffe, 1890, is a scarce and important text for practical use by both the student and teacher of the Slojd (Sloyd) manual arts education system.
"For some generations there has been cultivated in Sweden, and amongst Scandinavian and kindred peoples, a course of training in personal ingenuity, unknown in most other countries... Such a course or system of training is called Slojd... The nearest equivalent in English to the Swedish word Slojd would seem to be Hand-Craft, or mechanical training for the hand."
The Toolemera Press re-publishes classic books on early crafts, trades and industries from the shelves of our personal library.
Elementary Sloyd And Whittling, by Gustaff Larsson, 1906 was a standard text in the Sloyd, or Slojd system of education.
"Sloyd is tool work arranged and employed as to stimulate and promote vigorous self-activity for a purpose which the worker recognizes is good. By 'Elementrary Sloyd' is meant bench work in wood, in two dimensions adapted to children from eight to twelve years of age."
Elementary Sloyd And Whittling remains a primary resource for the modern educator and craftsperson in the application of basic knife work to practical woodwork.
The Toolemera Press re-publishes classic books on early crafts, trades and industries, from our personal library.
The Toolemera Press re-publishes classic books on early crafts, trades and industries, from our personal collection.
An unfolding lifestyle Soon to start yet another video training series so this week I’ve been looking into and prototyping to that end—one of my favourite things to do. I like what’s coming from the chisel edge and the saw teeth. It feels good. Angled hanging pegs, clean lines ti the shoulder lines and repeat […]
I hope when you read the title of this post you did so with a bit of sarcasm. This weekend I was fast-forwarding through commercials while catching up on a show. Flashing past the screen at a 32X rate I noticed a table saw. Whoa! Time to backtrack and play it again. What I discovered was the end of woodworking as we know it.
(If you miss it the first time through, pay attention around the 8 second mark.) There it was.
But does anyone out there have any idea about what this tool is?
I got the pictures from Olav who was asked by his cousin about it. So the pictures are courtesy of Olav and his cousin.
Based on the method of hanging the tools, I assume the pictures are from some sort of restaurant, or at least someone who doesn't mind being questioned by Saint Peter on the day of his judgement regarding why he/she thought that it was OK to mount a nice looking socket gouge with a Torx screw through the handle.
I don't know where the pictures were taken, if it is in Denmark or somewhere else.
It seems with each plane rehab I am doing, I do something new and extra that I didn't do on the previous one. I am rehabbing two planes now and I plan on going back and re-doing all of my planes. I like the look of the painted and shiny planes a lot. It's funny because a year ago I was ambivalent about this level of rehabbing.
The #6 I'm currently rehabbing is kicking my ass. I have been flattening the sole on it for a couple of weeks. It hasn't been an everyday workout with it, but I thought I would have been done with this a long time ago. My stubborn streak kicked in this AM and I was going to get it done today or bust a gut trying.
I didn't bust a gut but the damn thing took me all day to do. It still isn't 100% done with all the sanding but I had to quit for today. There was one bright note in this day from hell and that is I got the #4 to the same point as the #6.
|made a Harbor Freight run|
|marking the width|
I think I may go with 6x48 belts for the other grits too. With the 4x35 belts I have to hold one end with a clamp because the marble threshold is shorter than the belt. The 6x48 belt I was able to cut long enough so that the bench dogs pinched it fast on both ends. No clamp in the way as I sand.
|new 80 grit belt is working better|
|3 lines gone, 3 more to go|
|soles sanded up to 400 grit|
|why I'm doing hand sanding|
Getting these two planes sanded to this point is all I got done today. I made a road trip to get sanding belts and drawer guides, and about 2 hours eating lunch and searching the WWW for springs. The rest of the shop day was devoted to sanding. Boring, mind numbing, repetitious, sanding and I'm glad 99.9% of it is done.
Did you know that the Reuben Award is given annually for the best cartoon?
Many people equate “skill” and “talent.” They are sometimes related, but certainly not the same thing. It is like the modern conflation of “jealousy,” “covetousness, ” and “envy.” All are related as manifestations of the same base impulse, but they are not the same (envy being the most pernicious).
But back to “skill” and “talent.”
I possess precious little artistic talent, but have acquired fair-to-middling creative skills. I remember clearly a session in the studio of one of my art classes in college. I was succeeding in the class by sheer grit and inordinate time working in the studio; the art didn’t flow out of me simply because the talent was not there. But I was determined to succeed and spent untold hours at work there. One day I asked Mrs. Barn to come with me and keep me company as I worked, and as we walked there she picked up a branch of some flowering tree or something. So while I ground away at my “creating” she whipped out a lovely oil painting of the sprig even though she never trained as an artist. But she has sublime artistic talents while I am saddled with a noteworthy lack of them.
I’m not sure if curiosity is a talent, but I do have a fair bit of that. Perhaps my greatest creative gift was that I was an indifferent student in school prior to my third stint in college, when I worked and learned with a vengeance. But middle school and high school? Nah, I did not pay enough attention to enable them to beat the curiosity out of me and I was able to retain my native impulse to color outside the lines.
Talent is, I believe, a portion of that inventory of nascent gifts imparted at our conception as unique creatures, whereas skills are the abilities honed through repetitive exercises. That said, the vocabulary of skills we possess allows us to expand our creative and productive capacity to a nearly limitless vista, and to hone those natural talents.
As a craftsman and teacher that is where I try to invest my resources.
I am at a point in my life where my writing is an output that has value in the marketplace, all the more surprising to me in that I went to gubmint schools at a time when the rigors of language arts were, shall we say, not emphasized. Now I practice writing on a near-daily basis to sharpen my skills of wordsmithing. This occurs on this blog as often as I can even though many acquaintances urge me to de-emphasize my writing here in exchange for “more followers” via other vehicles that do not require anything more than a few pictures and words on a smart phone. I have resisted this for several reasons, not the least of which is I do not have a smart phone and have little interest in getting one given that I live in a place with almost no cell service. Second, if my goal is to increase my ability in crafting words, I’d better spend some time crafting words rather than avoiding it. An analogy would be encouraging someone to refine their joinery skills at the workbench by giving them a screw gun.
Instead, for the time being I prefer to write short articles for this blog a few times a week as a means of not only connecting with those who read it but also accomplishing the not-so-unintended-consequence of improving my own writing skill set. I know I will never become as facile as Chris Schwarz given both his natural talents and honed skills that enable him to have a daily output capacity of probably four thousand words. I hope for a tenth of than, and dream of a quarter, a pace I actually maintained while writing the 40,000 word first draft manuscript of Virtuoso in six weeks.
For the past few years I have endeavored to write something every day. A blog essay, even if only a short one, or at last a portion of one (some blogs take a few sessions of verbal noodling). Or another portion of my ongoing book manuscript, at present The Period Finisher’s Manual (I am targeting the end of the year for its completion). Some mystery/thriller fiction, currently about a derelict antiques restorer out in the mountains and how he eventually saves the world. Blowing off steam by recording pithy observations about the state of the world around me.
It is all enjoyable and ruthlessly demanding, but it is how I am building my muscles in formulating and organizing ideas and putting them into words.
Simply put, the regimen makes me more skilled at writing.
The same is true with my physical craft. As a furniture maker I will not and probably cannot become Jean-Henri Riesener, John Goddard, Alvar Aalto, or James Krenov. I am unlikely to ever become a truly skilled engraver, or metalsmith, or machinist, or chemical engineer. But I can become better than I am.
And so can you.
While I cannot endow you with creative genius, I can encourage and direct you in the genesis and more full formation of skills through practice and exercise. This has become cemented as the goal for my time in The Barn on White Run; that I explore and create, and share those adventures with you that you might be more encouraged to do the same.
In the coming weeks and months I hope this will become manifest on this blog with my mercurial musings about craft and life on the homestead being augmented with more postings about the processes of doing and not just my noumena. One iteration of this starting next will be a series of bench exercises I presented at last year’s banquet address for the Colonial Williamsburg Working Wood in the 18th Century shindig.
Another will be the multi-part walk-through of interpreting an early 19th century writing desk, of which I have already written a couple of blogs in the past.
And making instructional videos for distribution with a talented young local film maker.
And making and modifying tools.
And Gragg chairs.
And, and, and…
All in pursuit of skills, in service to my “talent.”
Whether you’re a teacher, a doctor or a cabinetmaker, it’s sobering to subject yourself occasionally to the kind of conditions your students, patients or clients experience while in your care. The past few weeks have reminded me how disturbing a kitchen remodel can be…which seems appropriate, given that I’m working on a book about kitchens for Lost Art Press.
Mark: Where the *#@$ are the knives?
Mark: Where did you put the salt and pepper? Salt and pepper! How is it possible to forget the location of such basic things?
Me: I JUST. HAD. THAT &^$% CAST IRON GRIDDLE. WHERE DID I SET IT DOWN????At such moments I feel a special kind of empathy for my kitchen clients: the ones who wash dishes in the bathroom sink not for weeks, but months, because they just had to have that handmade faucet from England (the one that arrived damaged and had to be replaced — apparently with plating made from nickel newly mined and shipped on a slow boat from Botswana). The ones who have to endure complaints from their smart-Alec kids (“Why are you tormenting us?” — overheard in a kitchen where Daniel O’Grady and I were working in 2005). The ones who plan their remodel in two phases stretching over a calendar year so their income can catch up with the costs, and patiently live out of boxes. And especially the ones who camp out in their basement while doing their own remodel and building their own cabinets.
Granted, our chaos is more pervasive than it should have been. We’d had this kitchen work on the horizon but hadn’t planned to let rip when we did. Mark had an unexpected opening in his schedule one morning when a client wrote to say she was seriously ill and suggested that he and his crew might prefer to avoid exposure to contagion. I leapt at the chance to get our kitchen started and (like a champ) dispersed the contents of the cabinets to the far corners of the house before work that morning.
When planning the hayrake table I built last year*, I decided to modify the original dimensions of the 1908 drawing by Ernest Gimson so that Mark and I could use it in our home. Our house has no dining room; we cook, clean up, and entertain guests in the kitchen.It seemed like a good idea. We missed the farmhouse table in our previous kitchen, which had also served as our dining room. Even though the old enamel-topped worktable I’ve been moving around for more than 25 years worked fine for meal prep and eating, we thought it would be lovely to have a homemade table where guests would feel like guests instead of warm bodies who might be pressed into service chopping or kneading.
But as soon as we carried the table into the kitchen I realized I’d opened a can of worms. The delightful retro-style vinyl composition tile I’d put down when I first moved in (because it was affordable and I could do all the labor myself in my spare time) was an affront to the Cotswold School-style table, never mind the pair of two heart chairs based on a turn-of-the-century design by C.F.A. Voysey. That floor would have to go. The table called for flagstones softened by centuries of wear; the least we could give it was floor of wood.
As tends to happen when you tinker with one feature of a room, we decided that if we were going to the trouble of replacing the floor (which would entail removing *everything* from the kitchen), I should strip the cabinets I’d made in my spare time, years ago, when I was using my home to experiment with unusual materials and finishes. (Translation: The finish looked like crap.)
“Well, if we’re taking out the cabinets so you can strip them, I’d like to talk about a better sink,” Mark said. The sink was a salvaged double-drain model (though, being from the ’50s, it was made of pressed metal instead of cast iron as its forebears would have been a half-century before) — perfectly serviceable, and really, quite charming, but with basins that were annoyingly shallow and too-thin enamel that had worn through in some areas, allowing the steel to rust.
And if we were going to get a better sink… Well, there went my cheerful retro linoleum counters.
A simple table brought into our home proved the tip of a shipwrecking iceberg. At lunchtime on Thursday we reached a point sufficiently up the other side of the bell curve that I thought it was time for a punch list. Wishful thinking. It looks as though there will still be a few weeks of “Where’s that *%^& pan” and “What did you do with the oregano/pasta pot/tin foil/fruit cutting board?”***
Sure, I get that these are trifling inconveniences compared to going weeks without running water or months without electricity, never mind facing war, disease or starvation. But I’d forgotten just how deeply my basic ability to function — mentally as well as physically — is grounded in the orderliness of the kitchen. It really is the nexus of our home.–Nancy Hiller, author of Making Things Work
*for a book about English Arts & Crafts furniture scheduled for publication by Popular Woodworking this June
trees can’t read
Or, trees FTW.
I am not going to buy a replacement fence for the plow. I would still have the square problem with the plane body. I will strip all the parts from this plane that I can and save them. There are a lot of 044's out there and they are cheap if they are selling just the plane and one or no irons. The price more than doubles with a full set of irons. I already have the irons and just need the plow.
I will toss the fence in the shitcan. The plane body will follow it after I beat the snot out of it with a 3lb sledge hammer. I would like to be able to pass it on but the condition of it condemned it to the shitcan in pieces.
BTW, in my search for a Record 044 fence, I looked at the rods on every one I found. My rods each have a hole on one end. I didn't see one rod in my search that had a hole in the rods. Maybe these were replacements to fit the wonky holes I had?
|back to work on the #6|
|want to get an idea of the #4|
|3 minutes later|
|#4 done on the sole with 80 grit|
|quick run on the 80 grit|
|have to be careful|
|looks like the #4 will be done before the #6|
|tried the big boy screwdriver|
|got it flush on both|
|driving them in a drilled hole|
|it's a two speed drill|
|came apart easily|
|the chuck is stiff|
|the chuck internal parts|
|it's dirty and rusty inside|
|small end of a taper pin?|
|came apart as I thought it would|
|this isn't working|
|quick clean and degreasing|
|main shaft cleaned and degreased|
I lightly sanded this with 320 grit after I had cleaned it. It showed rust as I sanded. I didn't see it looking at the shaft but there was no doubt there was rust being raised with the sandpaper. This will get an EvapoRust bath later on.
|pinion gears look good too|
Did you know that Brazilian soccer great, Pele, is the only player to have won 3 world cups?
I’ve been meaning to get my teaching schedule posted here; but have been too busy getting stuff together…Next week I’ll be part of Colonial Williamsburg’s Working Wood Conference. I haven’t been there since 2007, here’s a shot from then, with Jennie Alexander pontificating while I get set to turn something.JA & PF at Colonial Williamsburg 2007
It’s sold out, so if you got a ticket, I’ll see you there. https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/learn/conferences/working-wood
Next month, I’ll be back at Bob Van Dyke’s Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking for a 2-day class in carving oak; February 17 & 18. https://www.schoolofwoodworking.com/woodworking-classes.html#Speciality_Weekend_Classes The exercises we’ll carve are all based on ones I learned from studying period furniture; chests, boxes, cupboards, church furniture in England and more. Here’s a snippet of what to expect.
In April I’ll be down to Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School for 3 days of spoon carving. It’s full, but I think you can get on a waiting list. More fun than a barrel of monkeys. http://www.woodwrightschool.com/classes/spoon-carving-plus-with-peter-follansbeeI’m not touching those spoons
Later in April (20-22nd) ’ll be part of Fine Woodworking Live in Southbridge Massachusetts; including a one-day intro to spoon carving. With Dave Fisher as assistant!! I’m just going to step back & watch Dave… http://www.finewoodworkinglive.com/about-fww-live/
I think I’m doing furniture-related stuff too, maybe a talk as well. I’d look into it, but I still have next week’s thing to prep!
May – getting ready for June.
June 5-10; Greenwood Fest 2018. Plymouth CRAFT’s 3rd time around with Greenwood Fest. Held at Pinewoods Dance Camp in Plymouth Massachusetts. 2-day workshops beforehand and a 3-day festival. Demonstrations, hands-on sessions, big pile of spoon wood (or bowls if you’re inclined); lodging & meals all part of the scene. Tickets go on sale February 2nd, 10am eastern time. https://www.greenwoodfest.org/ How fast will it sell out? I predict less than a day…so don’t hesitate.
here’s last year’s group shot:
July – Can’t forget Lie-Nielsen. Spoon carving, July 21 & 22. https://www.lie-nielsen.com/workshop/USA/191
That’s all I have for certain right now. We’re planning a long session for making a joint stool at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking. Like the chest project we did there twice, this would be one-weekend-per month for a few months. Maybe 4. So 8 days of classes. Unlike the chest, this project would require little or no homework. Split the log, make the boards, cut joinery, do turning! And make the stool. Haven’t figure the time frame yet. I might have a trip overseas in November, so I’m waiting to get that sorted first.
I also offer one-on-one classes here at my shop in Kingston Massachusetts.
Spoon carving, the oak furniture carvings I do, or various projects – like a carved box. Rate is $500 a day. I have all the tools necessary, wood and reference materials. We have lunch together, lodging and other meals on your own; but Plymouth is 10 minutes away with all its options for both. Expensive, yes. But one-on-one instruction can cover a lot of ground. I have time available in March, then again starting in September. July and August are too hot to share a small space!
Every weekday until the February 1st opening of Issue Four pre-orders, we will be announcing one article from the table of contents here on the blog. If you have yet to sign up for a yearly subscription, you can do so here.
My article titled 'The Quest for Mastery Through Production Work' highlights some of the major events, teachers, and experiences that shaped me during my career as a woodworker and maker/designer of utilitarian objects. I share my ideas of mastery and how it can be cultivated through incorporating 'production work' into the workflow.
I hope that sharing my stories about this approach will turn people on to the idea that it’s ok to make lots of things back to back. In fact, there are many insights and opportunities to learn from it that can take our work to the next level. I also hope that my article will inspire anyone who is searching for ways to increase their skill level, efficiency or focus to set themselves up with a production run in the future.
You can reserve your copy of Issue Four here.
Last night’s post has been bugging me when I used the term “software”. I may have been a little over zealous with this word and I don’t want to appear to be something that I’m not. I think the internet already has enough of those.
It’s an excel file I’m working on. In my eyes it behaves like basic software and the code I’m writing for it which I know is easy stuff for developers is not so easy for me. So that’s why I used the term software.
No, no one wrote to me and asked about it, it just weighed heavily on my mind.
The new roof on the Electric Horse Garage is complete. The electricity is in and flowing. The last bit of the puzzle (the ductless HVAC) will be installed on Monday.
That means we move the big machines next week, and I can begin the next chapter of my life.
Some details: Ignore the weird red trim on the front of the shop. That isn’t how it was supposed to look, and I’ll fix that next week. I also have to install some floor sweeps for the doors and hang the interior lights (LEDs). Oh, I have to assemble the 18” band saw. Build a mobile base for the mortiser. Finish the restoration of the old Powermatic drill press.
And touch up the paint inside. Repair the weird hole in the floor (can you see Zuul down there?). Trim and fill the weird pipes in the middle of the floor. Get some heavy anti-fatigue mats for the floor.
Shops are never done.
— Christopher Schwarz
As the internet has brought the world closer, we’re realising that we have not-so-subtle differences after all. We may speak the same language but we don’t spell exactly the same. We don’t use the same terminology of certain words, nor the same measurements, nor even how we write it down in our cut lists. It is as if we are an entirely different race that has no brethren bloodline at all.
Let me give you one example. Lumber in the US means milled timber and timber in England and its conquered nations referred to as the commonwealth refer to timber as milled timber, in fact Lumber is seldom used in England or any commonwealth nation except for Canada. Let me give you one more; in the US you would say 2×4 but in Australia you would reverse it and say 4×2.
I can live with all of that but what I find difficult to live with is the reading order of the US version T,W,L (Thickness, Width, Length). I don’t know about Europe as I have no cut lists from there but I know here in Australia and I suspect England to be the same we write L,W,T. Now that makes sense.
I’ve tried doing research on the topic to find out the history of why and came up empty. So my take on it is this and correct me if I am wrong. The timber/lumber yards felt they did not need to read to L,W,T because that was not the order they were working in. All they needed to know was the thickness and its width, the length was the least of their concern. So I believe somewhere along the line some dumb arse followed the timber yards and changed what was unnatural for cabinetmakers to adopt but adopt they did. I have tried adopting the US method and I seem to get confused every time because in my mind I’m reading it backwards. Think about it; Do we ever thickness first? No, it’s always the length, then width. Maybe in the machine world they thickness their timber first, but in the hand tool world unless your a gym junkie you wouldn’t.
This has become an issue for me since I’ve written this software called Project Price Estimator. I started this at the beginning of last year and got side tracked and have just returned to it. I was looking at the cut list and ordered it as L,W,T but I thought the US would struggle with it written like as I struggle to read their way of writing it. The thing is I don’t know if I will ever release it to the public but it’s so cool and I know you would love it and use it everyday. This software is the most honest bloody software on the market. I’ll give you one example, it doesn’t calculate you buying a gallon of finish, it calculates on the amount of finish used on the project at hand and the same is applied to glue, screws, nails and other fixtures including your workshop expenses like electricity, phone, rent etc, and at the very end of it all it tells you how much your build is worth. How many times have you asked yourself and your partner what’s it worth? Well now you’ll know.
Let me know what you think of my theory. There has to be a reason why they changed the order around.
P.S. Issue IV is currently WIP (Work in Progress) I’m not sure of it’s release date due to work commitments. More on it closer to it’s release.
I build my chairs in a way where glue is only a minor player. And after a stupid mistake yesterday, I now get to test how effective my strategy is. Before I pull my pants down and tell you how I messed up, here’s the set-up. The stretchers and legs of my chairs are built so they are in tension (I do this by lengthening the tenons in the stretchers […]
I am a panda. Or a great ape. Or any of a number of animals - I'll choose the cute ones - whose terrain is disappearing and are therefore endangered. Tut- tutting or telling me how cute, chubby, and fun to watch I am doesnt help much. "Oooh, check out that guy with the hand tools! Amazing!" Neither does lip service. On the face of it, our government agencies all love manufacturing and makers. They love to have maker initiatives, training, etc. They are even happy to make a small, zoo-like zone of a few blocks where manufacturers who already exist can try to still exist. But protecting the actual wild environment is another story.
Most of the energy in encouraging manufacturing in NYC is focused on "Maker Spaces," which are always well-intentioned and sometimes actually awesome. But the problem is that these spaces, much like a breeding sanctuary, is that it is not a real substitute for an improved wild environment. What happens to a fledgling business after you "graduate" from a maker space? If you have a prototype, you will probably will outsource your production to somewhere with enough affordable real estate to encourage manufacturing - a place that sometimes feels like anywhere but New York City. And what if you want to expand your business? That probably means not New York too. All the investment in maker spaces, incubators, and other startup support may pay off - but not for the people of the city.
Cabinet shops, which are TFWWs retail life blood, are dying in NYC. Many landlords don't want messy businesses. Even in neighborhoods with industrial zoning - places that are zoned for mess and noise - the trend is to try to rent to offices and commercial ventures. Even if the business does actual making, their primary work is clean and silent. Offices and design shops have a far greater density of people than a woodshop, and so higher rents are easier to achieve. And of course once your tenant is a fancy office, it will want like-minded businesses for neighbors, not a company with a screaming table saw or spray booth. And once a landlord realizes that it can get more per square foot by skirting the industrial zoning requirements rents shoot up. Even if the space is available for a cabinet shop, the cost might be unaffordable.
Now I should mention that not all landlords are opportunists who bought property that was discounted because of its use restrictions but now are trying to evade their responsibilities. ( See my blog from a few weeks ago about Industry City). There are a many landlord - and thankfully mine is one (My landlord has been incredibly supportive of what we do and truly fights for continued manufacturing in NYC) - that really want industry to succeed. There are bunches of reasons for this. The first is that many people, my landlord and others included, want a city that is diverse. They recognize that not everyone is a web designer or a stockbroker. We have thousands of electricians, plumbers, carpenters, cabinet makers, machinists, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers, and a range of other craftspeople and tradespeople who need a place to go to work, like being in the city, and most important, make the city far more interesting and full of ideas than it would be without them.
Let me give you an example:
Once upon a time, on West 22nd Street in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, a tinsmith named Harry Segerman had a business two doors down from my grandparents luncheonette. Harry mostly made tinware, and later stainless fixtures, for the restaurant industry. In the years following WWII, Chelsea (nowadays an exceedingly trendy and expensive neighborhood) was a fairly rough part of town. A few blocks west were the Cunard Docks; the buildings were a mix of low rise housing and garment industry factories.
The area was inexpensive to live in, which attracted bohemian artists. Some of them wandered into Harry's shop and were enamored by the idea that you could take metal and bend it into interesting shapes. Harry, who was encouraging by nature and very interested in art, helped helped a lot of these artists make work in tin. Some artists took it a step further and developed expertise in sculpting with sheet metal because of his support.
On paper, this interaction is what cities do best. Art and crafts (and commerce) happen when a big city is a melting pot of ideas and skills. But it won't happen - and we will be the poorer - if New York City becomes solely a consumer of real things, instead of a designer, maker, and consumer.