Bob Hastings and an Unusual Wood Bowl
June is Seniors' month but Bob Hastings is one of those
seniors who is constantly looking for a challenge - no rocking chair on
the porch for him.
Hastings is a woodworker 'par excellence' and his workshop is filled
with wood shavings emitting the smell of fresh wood. Here, he spends
many hours and, just a sculptor has the ability to bring a creative
piece out of his medium, so too, does Hastings with wood. "I never
throw anything away," he says. "Even a knarled piece of wood can be
turned into something of beauty," he says as he holds up an example that
he will eventually turn into a candleholder.
Turning wood and turning out unusual pieces requires a seemingly never
ending supply of wood and Hastings' workshop and basement are filled
with many kinds of woods still drying. "Some of the wood has been
drying for 10 years," he explains, "which isn't bad when you consider it
takes one year for one inch to dry completely.
A graduate from the University of Waterloo, Hastings taught for more
than 25 years from James Bay to Port Elgin. With a specialty in Design
and Technology, he taught young students in Grades 6 to 8 and also young
adults in Special Needs groups. He also designed and conducted
community woodworking programs known as the 'After-four Sessions' for
five to 10-year-olds and the Children's Woodworking Centre at the Durham
In addition to spending time in the classroom, he also promoted
workshops for Ontario teachers of primary and junior children and taught
instructors at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Education.
Hastings was also a graduate of the University of Toronto's Design and
Technology Specialist Course and taught at Saugeen District Secondary
School in Port Elgin.
Bob Hastings shows the book that changed many classrooms
His book the 'Woodworking Centre: K to 3 an introduction
to wood technology' has been used by many teachers and is recognized as
a format for teachers to interest young students in the creativity of
working with wood.
In his book, Hastings has written, "The process of construction is where
much learning takes place. These paths to the final outcome are where
young children hypothesize, test, observe and then confirm or
re-evaluate their understanding of their world ... Children should be
the construction supervisors of the process and .... adult intervention
should be offered in a quiet, positive, cooperative way. Kids seldom
add anything to their masterpiece without a reason. The child's
explanation will assuredly remind us that our lack of imagination often
muddies our perception."
His dedication and commitment to his vocation of teaching and his
avocation of woodturning has won Hastings several awards over the years
and, still, he keeps his fingers in the pie of education, teaching
adults who have a mental illness at the drop-in centre in Owen Sound
every Monday night. "Sometimes, just showing an interest in what they
can do, helps them immeasurably," he adds.
While his first love may be wood, Hastings also enjoys gardening and
creating pieces from whatever is handy. Pointing to what appears to be
a piece of art on the wall, he explains that, "This is just pieces of
driftwood I've put together and hung on the wall."
Then he picks up something that appears to be a vase
covered with holes but having a surface that is soft like velvet. "This
is a seed pod from the Banksia tree. I turn them and, to me, they look
Everywhere you turn are exquisitely turned bowls, vases,
candleholders and objects d'art. It's clear that Bob Hastings has an
eye for finding beauty in what, to many, may simply appear as a piece of
A stick with a can nailed to it and some strings
can make a child's first musical instrument.
Exquisite wood turnings
Yet another piece of wood is prepared