Inside the Maker Space: Meeting for Whittling

In this alternative Meeting for Worship, student visions come alive from blocks of wood.


Nicola Higgins

Student whittling knives and creations, after Meeting in the Maker Space

The makerspace is mostly silent, with the exception of a few whispers or giggles exchanged between classmates. It smells like construction, which makes sense as we are in a room full of wood.

Each student is intently making small, precise carvings with their knife, hoping to sculpt a gnome out of a rectangular block of wood. Most students are sitting with one leg over the other, the wood pressed into their thigh. As they cut, the wood shavings fall to the ground, collecting in clumps all over the floor. Soon, their ideas will come to life from a simple block of wood.

Students value this unique alternative Meeting for Worship.

“It’s super therapeutic. It’s a nice medium to express any teenage angst,” says junior Julia Barry with a smile. She says she wishes the group could meet more often, as she sees more value in this Meeting for Worship than the regular one.

As in regular Meeting, the group’s leader, and beloved art teacher, Heather Romney, emphasizes the importance of silence. But in Meeting for Whittling, students can be productive and create something they are proud of, while still having an important time to reflect.

(This also keeps students from falling asleep, something that is common in large group Meeting. Many students also struggle to sit still in large group Meeting, and whittling can allow them to release their jitters.)

Another aspect students value is the sense of community brought by whittling. The same members attend Meeting for Whittling each time, as members cannot join after the first session. This creates a small, safe place for students to be ‘alone’ with their creation, while simultaneously surrounded by a small community of other whittlers.

Ms. Romney says she originally started the meeting because she wanted to learn how to whittle objects out of wood. She knew some basics of whittling, but wanted to improve upon her skills, and she knew how relaxing and satisfying whittling could be. Romney says she values this time as much as students do.

“You have to imagine what you want to make and hold that picture in your mind while you are working. Then, cut slowly and carefully, so you don’t take too much wood away. It requires focus and quiet,” she says. In this way, whittling is a great practice of concentration, reflection, and creativity.

As much as Romney loves Meeting for Whittling, she says she, too, wishes it could meet more frequently. Romney sees a potential Meeting for Whittling club in the future, which is exciting to frequent members of the meeting.

In the meantime, she encourages interested or returning whittlers to come to the makerspace during M block on days 2,3,4,7, and 10 to learn more about this unique and relaxing medium.