photo by Nash Baker
At the end of every semester at Glassell, we clean out all the disheveled cabinets and drawers. We throw away broken tools and parts and reorganize the rest. A few years ago, while cleaning out the hammer and chisel drawer, I came across a worn out sledge hammer. Through the worn garish red paint the satiny steel skin of the mallet was unblemished, it had gotten better with age. Its handle on the other hand had not weathered as well. It resembled more of the rugged surface of old drift wood than a powerful hand tool. Its life had been extended several times with layers of duct tape that were now thread bare. I could only imagine over the years how many passionate sculptors had partnered with this handle and mallet to create their dreams; how many artist used it to mold their creations. I loved it for the history it held in the splintered grains of wood of its handle and the silent strength of its barely-red steel mallet. It’s days of hard labor are over. I bought the school a shiny new blue and yellow sledge hammer with a rubber handle and took the old red maul home to rest. Uncertain of its exact future, it rested on my den coffee table for the better of a year. Guests always comment on what a cool tool it was. It sparked unsolicited stories of hard work, of past labors and stubborn relatives. This summer, I decided to make a mold of the old maul. Each casting will tell a different story. This first casting is “You Make Me Stronger,” an ode to great partnerships as in the one with the artist, the handle, and the mallet.