Editor's note: this story has been updated with a corrected phone number.
In this technology-driven, fast-paced, online world, there’s something to be said for the old ways.
But some of those old ways, and old skills, are fading away. Cowetan Michael Sebacher wants to help preserve that knowledge before it is lost.
The local blacksmith has a vision for a school where local artisans and craftspeople can share their skills with others. It could also be a place where those who don’t want to teach could still work on their crafts and display them.
First, he needs the teachers. He’d like to talk to anyone local who does folk art and crafts who would be interested in being a part of the school. He’s also working on a location. It’s not necessarily limited to arts and crafts. Things like pickling and food preserving, and even beer and wine making might fit in, too. However, “we’re trying to avoid the tech slant,” he said.
“The urge to make by hand, to create, is like the same level as the urge to reproduce or eat,” Sebacher said. Thousands of years ago, “you had to build your shelter, you had to build your weapons, build your tools. Every day you made something with your hands, every day you were processing food, processing animal hides. Everything was made. I think it’s a function of our species and now it’s gone,” he said.
“We complain about kids always on their cell phones. What else have they got? Where are they going to go to learn anything?”
Sebacher would love to have classes for young and old. “I can see the homeschool people liking it, maybe some at-risk students,” he said. “To teach somebody how to do something, with a kid especially – they can take something that is in their head and they can manifest it with their own hands. It’s a huge self-esteem builder, and you are tapping into this primal building urge.”
You can learn lots of things on YouTube, but you may not have the tools and all the equipment to actually do those things. “Say you want to learn weaving … you get online, and there’s a tutorial. But you find 'I need a loom, I need these shuttle things, I’m not a carpenter, I can’t build these things.' So the desire is unfilled.
“That’s what I want this school to be for – people who have that urge to make and for people who have a latent urge. If I’m saying this urge is in everybody, I’m including everybody. If you say ‘oh, I’m not creative, I can’t even draw stick figures.’ BS. You're a human being. By definition you’re a maker. You‘ve just got to find what it is that fills you up and what you like just because you are you.”
Sebacher has spent many years learning the art and craft of blacksmithing. He learned a lot of it from a man who was willing to teach him.
“Myself, I believe it’s a requirement, if you have to spend years achieving mastery and bleeding over something, and then people write you big checks for what you do, part of your obligation now is to teach that to someone else.”
Historically, under the guild system, that’s how things worked. “You could be in the guild but you had to spend so many hours teaching,” Sebacher said.
“What if nobody before us had felt that way? I’m standing on the shoulder of that guy who smelted iron ore by some miracle. Who said oh, I’ve got to beat on this. How many thousands of years did that take?”
While the school would be for all ages, Sebacher things the biggest need for hands-on creating is for teens. He’d like to work with the school system, as well.
“The look in their eyes when you’re doing something in front of them, like raising a pot, and then they do it, and the self-esteem – it’s wonderful,” he said. “If you can manipulate objects in the world then you become more powerful and you can create your own environment, you can shape your own environment. That’s what human beings do."
“The things that stop people are space, expertise, and tools,” Sebacher said. He hopes the school will be able to provide all those things.
“I need people with ideas. I need people like me who want to teach, people like me who are just as passionate about this void that needs to be filled,” Sebacher said.
If you’re interested in getting involved with the school contact Sebacher at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 678-876-1654 .