Coopering Connections

As athletes from around the world gather in Pyeongchang, I’ve been thinking about the craft of coopering.  That may seem like an odd connection, but it’ll at least result in some great video links, so hear me out.

I can’t get into medal counts and all that jazz, but there is something about the Olympics that appeals to me: the idea of people putting aside differences to share a common bond.  Sport is a powerful shared bond, and so is craft.  International connections both online and in person abound in the world of craft.  Greenwood carving is certainly a good example, but there are many others, including coopering.

Now, I’ve never made so much as a single stave, let alone a bucket or barrel, but like most crafts, I find coopering fascinating.  I stumbled upon a video this week of Australian cooper George Smithwick.  I loved it, and it reminded me of a couple old favorites.  Each cooper from a different continent, yet bound by a shared craft.

If you need a break from ice dancing, check ’em out:

Here’s the aforementioned George Smithwick from Australia.  Wonderful video, including the end parts where he discusses his decision to enter into the trade.

This one brings back lots of memories for me.  I still have it on VHS ordered from Drew Langsner at Country Workshops years ago.  Ruedi Kohler was one of Drew’s original woodworking teachers.  The serendipitous story of them coming together in rural Switzerland ended up benefiting many people over the years.  The video is a great example of craft transcending language barriers.

If you like this last video featuring Alex Stewart, an incredible character and craftsman from the Appalachians of Tennessee, then I’d strongly recommend the book Alex Stewart: Portrait of a Pioneer — one of my favorites.  Here’s the video link:

I like to listen as I’m carving.  I’ll have some bowl photos to share next week.






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2 Responses to Coopering Connections

  1. Dave Fisher says:

    Uwe, who lives in Cologne, sent me this link to a great film featuring coopering in Germany: Much to learn from it, including the simplicity of the sharpening.


  2. bob faucette says:

    A classic. Thanks. Smithwick is a natural teacher.


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