Well I haven’t been posting anything about my Australia class and thought I should provide an update. This is the 4th time I am teaching my once a week class for students from Sacred Heart School in Allentown, PA. The class is listed as “Australia, the Dreamtime and Boomerangs” Many things are learned. Over the past 5 weeks we have learned what the Dreamtime is and read several Dreamtime stories. The students learned about Aboriginal art and tried their hand at painting their own. We learned the science of how boomerangs worked, decorated “Roomerangs” and learned to throw them. We have listened to aboriginal and Australian folk music. We even made PVC didgeridoos and attempted to play them. It is all fun and educational. Below are some photos from the art class. They show the art in progress and final paintings. I am quite impressed with how they turned out.
I have a few craft shows coming up so have been trying to add both regular stock and a few unusual items. One of the unusual ones is this Rhino boomerang. I saw a photo of the unfinished original by Herman Anhari. I used that to attempt my own version and after painting it, I am very happy. It flies well too!.
In order to paint it correctly, I had to do some up close and personal research of a real Rhinoceros!
Another new boomerang is this Toucan, based on one I received from Alberto Sabal from Argentina.
Other than trying to make a few boomerangs, I have been back teaching my once a week class for students at Sacred Heart School in Allentown. This week the students learned the science behind boomerangs, decorated “Roomerangs” and learned to throw them, listened to aboriginal music and read a Dreamtime story. It is a fun and educational class.
Announcing the Funky Fever, This is a variant of the Boomerang Fever which I am really pleased with. he flight is very nice and easy to catch. It’s made from 10 ply 5mm Finland birch plywood. To set it apart from the rest of my boomerangs I am painting the with chameleon, or color shift paint. The color of these seem to go from green to purple depending on how the light hits it. It was very popular at my craft show Saturday and I sold half the ones I made. With out further ado, here it is!
In a previous post I showed some new boomerangs I was working on. Well I had a craft show this pas weekend and go to show them off. Here are a couple.
Axerang from 1/4 inch 5 ply birch.
The Dorsal, a desing by my son, Vince.
The famous Boomerang Fever, made from lexan.
I didn’t realize that I haven’t been posting for a while. Medical issues have been taking a lot of my time (ankle arthritis) and making boomerangs has been keeping me busy too.
Since my last post, I had another visit from John Cross. We had a great time throwing boomerangs before he had to hop a flight back to Edmonton.
Its time to include some photos of the hardwood lap joint boomerangs I made. These are all made from curly maple and include an offset vee, a 90 degree Aspen shape and a Skippy shape.
Last night my wife and I had the pleasure of hosting John Cross for
dinner. John is at a guitar making conference nearby and was staying
overnight in town. Rather than go out for dinner, John took us up on
our offer to cook for him. For those inquiring minds, the menu
consisted of grilled pork tenderloin, a medley of roasted potatoes
(red skin, purple and sweet), sauteed sugar peas and pea shoots,
rainbow salad and for dessert, fresh local strawberries! We also
enjoyed some Yuengling lager.
Before, during and after dinner we talked about boomerangs. We talked
about Nationals we have both attended and some of the people we have
met along the way. It was really fun because John is great guy to talk
too. I had a wonderful relaxing evening. I did dig out some of my
collection for John to see. It was the first time he had seen any of
Bruce Bernstein’s work and he was surprised to see how much like Herb
Smith’s work they were. I promised him he could throw a few. We also
looked at some of my aboriginal artifacts and then went nuts from
there. We looked at boomerangs which looked like sea lions, pelicans,
parrots, dragons, Chinese letters, fish, birds, snakes, condors,
eagles, people, axes, hot sauce bottles, and many more.
I got out my copy of Performance Boomerangs to have John autograph. I
discovered he had already done that when I bought it in April 2003.
John informed me that I was the 3rd person to get a copy of the book.
John will be done with his conference on Sunday morning and he is
flying out of Allentown on Sunday afternoon. Before he goes, we plan a
session on the field at Irving Park. Rob Stewart and Ian Guldner
(another local thrower) will be there. Should be a fun time. John will
get to throw some Bernstein boomerangs then. Anyone else in the local
area can join us. Email me for details.
Now that the dust has settled in my life a bit, it’s time to make more dust…. sawdust! Saturday I focused on tracing and cutting out blanks from both plywood and polycarbonate. I have a few orders to fill and want to try to get my stock in better shape for future orders. I got 24 blanks cut out, then proceeded to set up the router and cut a 45 degree bevel on all of them. That should be enough to keep me busy for a while.
Sunday I decided to work with some hardwood. I had just purchased a new 3/4 inch cut flat router bit. It’s great for cutting laps to glue up booms. I had wood I previously sanded to thickness along with some from Chris K. I set things up and ended up with 9 sets of boards ready to glue. I glued these up Sunday to dry for Monday.
Monday I took the wood out from the clamps and traced the final shapes on them. I ended up with a nice assortment. I headed to the scroll saw and cut them all out. After that I set up the router table again and cut a 45 degree bevels on the fresh cut blanks. The weekend yielded me 32 boomerangs that are begging to have airfoils sanded on them. Memorial day weekend is rapidly approaching and I have plenty of boomerangs to shape.
May 16th was our final Australia Class with the students from Sacred Heart School. I am sure some of the students didn’t like it because we had a test. I’d rather not have a test but we actually have to grade the students so we split the grading into class participation, projects and the test. The students get to grade each other’s papers. They also got to fill out a survey rating the class and the teachers. We make sure it works both ways.
We then watched a video of Kendall Davis making modern boomerangs with power tools. His video most approached how I make boomerangs and showed a big difference from the video of Aborigines making them with “tommyhawks and files”.
Next was our Aussie tasting. We had Vegemite and crackers on hand. The students were brave and tasted it, but didn’t like it. They were rewarded for their efforts by getting ANZAC biscuits, a cookie made with flour, coconut, raisins, oatmeal and butter. I think they had seconds and thirds. ANZAC stands for Australia New Zealand Army Corps.
During the tasting session we had special guests. Sacred Heart School is part of the Catholic Diocese of Allentown which serves five counties in eastern Pennsylvania: Berks, Carbon, Lehigh, Northampton and Schuykill. Bishop John Barres, along with a some priests and principals from other schools in the Diocese had come to work to check out the Exploratory Class Program. We ended up with three groups of visitors to our class. hey asked the students and teachers about the classes and the program. One of the students told then that this class was the best! The students also presented the Bishop with a boomerang they had painted as a class.
One last thing was to view some actual “bush tucker”. Bush tucker is food found in the Australian bush country. One of my coworkers is from Australia and brought in witchetty grub, which is a rather large (4 inch?) white larva of a moth. this one is in a small wine bottle and he received it as a gag gift. He was pleased to be able to provide it for the class to see. Some of the students thought it was pretty gross.
Since this was the last class of the year, I need to thank a few people. First off, I want to thank Hasse Lindberg for supplying the boomerang blanks the class used. Thanks to David Fantone for getting those blanks to me. Thanks to Gary Broadbent for supplying Roomerangs for the class to decorate. Thanks to my employer for supporting this program and giving us a chance to do something in the community. And a very special thank you goes to my partner in this class, Hector Vazquez. Hector is a great guy and really works well with the students. Without Hector’s help, this class wouldn’t happen. He’s the best!
Thursday was our weekly Australia class. I had promised the students that if the weather was nice, we would get to throw boomerangs outside. When they arrived the temperature was near 70 degrees and the sun was shining. I couldn’t go back on my promise. However there were some other things scheduled too. We started out class by making didgeridoos from PVC pipe. We used 1-1/4 inch pipe for class but I had brought one made from 3 inch pipe and my large bloodwood one I bought in Australia. The students were interested in the different sound each one had. after making the didges they got the chance to attempt to play them. After a few minutes they were all managing to get some sound out of them. Most of the time they were trying too hard and I had to get them to relax more. A few of them were doing well enough that they asked to try the bloodwood one. Now that was funny!
Having spent half of class on didges we headed outside to throw boomerangs. After a refresher course on the proper technique, we let them throw (one person at a time). They held back at first but after gaining some confidence put a bit more effort into it. They were getting some really great throws. One student had trouble because he would often throw sidearm. When he threw correctly he was doing great but he really had to work at it. We did have our mishaps along the way. The area we use has a klot of small trees. Also there is a treeline complete with a swampy area in it. Well one errant throw is way up in a tree on the treeline. A second one was swallowed by the swamp monster. We finally had to stop as we expected the bus to be back soon. As they waited the last few minutes for the bus, they showed off their new boomerangs and their didgeridoo playing skills to the other students. What fun that was to watch.
Wednesday I snuck out to the field at lunch to test some new boomerangs. I had a stack of Hydra triblades made from 1/8 inch polycarbonate that weren’t flying the way I wanted so I reshaped them. They work great now. The last boomerang I tried was a beautiful curly maple lap joint boomerang shaped like the Colorado Aspen but with a 90 degree elbow. I am alway worried boomerangs like thata won’t fly correctly. Boy was I wrong. I threw it one time. It made a beautiful circle and I caught it without taking a single step. Bulls-eye! That boomerang is destined for the Gary Broadbent collection but I already have an order for another. Fortunately I have more curly maple.
This was the week the students were waiting for. It was time to paint boomerangs. We actusally started class buy watching a video of old men of the Mudburra and Jingili tribes making boomerangs in the traditional way. This was shot around Elliott, NT in 1988. The students were amazed watching the Aboriginies cut wood and shape it using axes and homemade chisels.
The it was on to boomerangs. I made the initial blanks and painted them a solid color per the students choices. It was up to them to paint them in a way they liked. There was some indecision by several students but eventually they were all into the project. Here are examples of their work.
We had to stop because the conference room we were using was booked and we got “tossed out”. I have their boomerangs and will be giving them coats of clear finish before bringing them back to the next class. If the weather is good, we will be throwing them. If not, we will be making PVC didgeridoos. The students are fired up for either adventure.