Concave and Convex Woodworking

Steiner Says Series

I’ll have a Steiner quote in mind as I work with our sixth graders this morning who are carving the convex form of a spinning top. It will take a strong will to keep that knife carving on this snowy morning; the last day before a nine day Thanksgiving break.

I’ll be thinking of this quote again when we return from break when I will bring out the plasticine and model forms with all classes. Here is the quote…

Above everything else, an artist, any artist, must develop a feeling for his media. It must he ‘sic’ so strong that — for instance — a sculptor working in wood knows that human eyes must be dug out of it; he focuses on what is concave; hollows out the wood. On the other hand, a sculptor working in marble or some other hard substance does not hollow out; he focuses his attention on, say, the brow jutting forward above the eye; takes into consideration what is convex. Already in his preparatory work in plasticine or clay he immerses himself in his material. The sculptor in marble lays on; the woodcarver takes away, hollows out. They must live with their material; must listen and understand its vital language.

Rudolph Steiner, The Arts and Their Mission, read in full here:

Photos of Waldorf Woodworking Project: Spinning Tops

I find that modeling forms helps to ground students when they return to school. Holidays can be so busy and they can interrupt any family’s rhythms and along with long days at home (sometimes alone), travel and too much food, students can come back to school exhausted and dis-regulated. I think of this clay modeling work to ground students after a break as my gift to our class teachers for whom I am so thankful!

What quote is inspiring you? Teachers using Waldorf Methods to teach through practical arts and crafts are invited to submit a post by email for this series.

Photograph of post author and Waldorf Handwork Teacher

That’s what works for me! Barbara Albert, Practical Arts Teacher, Mountain Sage Community School, is sharing resources and organizing the Wool Wood Wax Workshop. Come check it out at

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