The Return of Home Economics: Sewing, Suturing, Woodworking, Oh My!

Now 16 days in to our Shelter in Place, the teenage Weekndrs are home from school, likely through the end of the 2019-2020 academic calendar year. Virtual school is still in session, but the rigid structure of Public School has not translated well to the Zoom age. The kids have lots of free time.

Hobbies Save the Day

To pass the days, the Weekndr household has turned to hobbies to take our minds off the frightening news that keeps unfolding. Woodworking, sewing, baking, cooking, and creative engineering projects. The youngest fashioned up a handmade face mask on the sewing machine. The oldest daughter ordered a suture kit and is learning out to sew a wound from YouTube videos.

Despite all the downsides of COVID-19, the return to Home Economics and Industrial Arts education is a silver lining. Kids are making things again, learning to use their hands, and that’s good for our sanity, our environment, and the future of the global economy.

In the introduction of my 2014 book, The Handmade Skateboard, I wrote about the ill effects of our country’s move away from Home Ec over the past few decades:

“Making things from scratch is a dying art on the brink of extinction. It was pushed to the edge when public schools dismissed woodworking classes and turned the school woodshop into a computer lab. And when you separate society from how things are made—even a skateboard—you lose touch with the labor and the materials and processes that contributed to its existence in the first place. It’s not long before you take for granted the value of an object. The result is a world where cheap labor produces cheap goods consumed by careless customers who don’t even value the things they own.”

Matt Berger, from The Handmade Skateboard: Design and Build a Custom Longboard, Cruiser, or Street Deck From Scratch (Sept. 2014)

The COVID-Generation will be different. They have seen a disruption in the supply chain like nothing we’ve ever experienced in nearly 100 years. Access to stuff is something we have come to take for granted. So when your local grocery store runs out of toilet paper, it’s gonna change your mindset about the value of things.

Can’t find a facemask for sale? Make your own. (even the NYTimes is on to it)

Which gives me an idea for my next woodworking video: How to make Toilet Paper from Handplane Wood Shavings. Follow me on TikTok!

Looking for a fun project for the pandemic? Browse the Weekndr archive:

Build a Vintage Skateboard

Make a Balsa Wood Toy Airplane

How to Make Replacement Scrabble Tiles

How to Make a Tumbler Compost Bin

How to Build a Woodshed

Practice: The 5-minute Dovetail

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