Andrea here, musing today about making things by hand, and the tactile and visual pleasures of connecting with three dimensions in this digital age. It seems that more and more institutions of learning, from school classrooms to museums of every discipline, are recognizing the importance of object-based learning. Engaging with an actual “concrete” (okay, not literally) entity brings a subject—be it history, art, technology, the natural sciences—magically alive in ways that transcends a computer screen image or photographic reproduction.
I recently had a wonderful first-hand experience in watching this happen. In September, I teamed up to do a special project with a professor who teaches undergraduates at my alma mater how to print on an old-fashioned printing press. It involved creating a keepsake for an alumni gathering, and as it was my bright idea to print it by hand with real type and quality paper—even though 700 copies were needed—the two of us had a LOT time to chat in the press room as we cranked out the pieces one by one. (I fell in love with letterpress printing as a freshman, and did a lot of it, so it was great fun for me to get ink on my hands again after so many years.)