Our fourth challenge was to create an innovative culinary vessel or utensil out of wood. Upon hearing the challenge I was a little daunted, but my worries soon faded after getting a tour of the University of Minnesota's woodshop and seeing how helpful the manager and technicians were.
My thought process for this task began the first day we were assigned the project when we were put into groups to brainstorm utensil ideas using the process introduced to us by Professor Barry Kudrowitz. I really enjoyed this process because it was limitless. As I was thinking of ideas I was more aware of my own thought process and how I will discard ideas before I should because I find them to be "stupid", "weird", or "impossible" when really they could be the beginning of an amazing idea, but if I shut down an idea in the beginning it can never be improved upon or receive feedback. I tried my best to write down every idea related to culinary vessels or utensils, which is why some of these ideas might not be very feasible considering our time constraints and the fact that we had to use wood.
Once I got back to my dorm I tried to use the same thought process to think of more ideas.
I tried making a prototype of my idea of a bowl that would have a divider that you could pull out when you have to mix dry and wet ingredients separately and then together when baking, but I decided against that idea because I didn't think it would be feasible considering our time constraints.
I ended up deciding on a food pyramid plate because in my Italian class we were discussing the differences between Italian food culture and American food culture. I thought that a different way to remind kids to eat healthy would be to put what they have been learning in school health classes since they were little right in front of them as a constant visual reminder that it is important to eat from each food group and to know the proper/suggested size of portions to eat. I also believe that it would work well for adults because it is subtle enough that they would just look like modern triangle plates while still encouraging them to eat a varied diet. I decided to make a prototype out of my design before I made one out of wood so that I could get feedback from my friends and family before I made the final copy out of wood.
I then proceeded to purchase the wood needed to make my plate. I decided on a red oak because it is a strong and durable kind of wood and because it was one of the few pieces of wood at Home Depot that wasn't plywood and actually large enough for what I needed to create.
I worked in the W. L. Hall Workshop at Rapson both Friday and Sunday and with the help of many of the technicians and practically all of the tools in the workshop I was able to finish my plate. I am very appreciative of all of their aid because I feel like I have gained a general knowledge of what most of the tools do and because I now have firsthand experience making something with my own two hands.
I did, however, face a bit of difficulty along the way. As I was chiseling the rim of my plate a bit of it chipped since the edge was so thin, so I ended up having to glue my plate at two points.
Thankfully, they were quite small pieces that broke off, so it wasn't very noticeable. To finish my plate I applied mineral oil, because it is one of the few food safe finishes for wood.