The Chair Project

December 23, 2015

Thank you for your patience as we experienced some technical difficulties and were unable to post blogs from Acapulco. We did, however, return with plenty of stories and photos, so stay tuned for those to come. Follow us on Instagram at @OrangewoodPCA or www.instagram.com/orangewoodpca to see more photos from our time at Casa Hogar.

One big project during this trip was a plan concocted by Dawn & David Bradley to teach older boys woodworking skills by cutting, assembling and painting ten wooden chairs, modeled after the iconic chairs in the cafeteria at Casa Hogar. Four of the chairs were to remain at the children’s home, and six were to be brought back unassembled to the US.  With only three full days in Acapulco, and with other chores, activities and fiestas on the schedule, this project needed to be completed within the span of four hours one afternoon. As Joe says about any travel schedule, “The only thing certain is that things will change.”

Here you can see a couple of examples of these colorfully painted wooden chairs in the cafeteria

Here you can see a couple of examples of these colorfully painted wooden chairs in the cafeteria

Dawn arrived earlier in the week and purchased uncut wood and paint for the project. We had brought a skill saw and a jigsaw from the US, but it became evident right away that the skill saw was not going to cut it. Immediately, Dawn grabbed a few men and hopped into a taxi headed for Home Depot to buy a heavier-duty table saw.  While they were away, there was some marking and sanding to be done, but the project was largely stalled until they returned. Once, they returned with the saw, sawdust started flying and the first chair began to take shape.

The new table saw in action.

The new table saw in action.

The most fun part of this project was that there was a way for every child to be involved. Even though the power tools parts required older boys, there was still marking, sanding and painting to be done by everyone. The younger children got to take part in painting solid colors and stamping with their handprints, while older students sanded, assembled a stand for the table saw, painted designs and signed their names on the chairs.

And what about that ambitious four hour deadline? It turned into more of a fourteen-hour project, working by both sunlight and moonlight. The brutal Acapulco sun finally became an asset as many of the pieces received multiple coats of paint that needed to be dry to assemble or pack in duffel bags to be brought home. The resident handymen, Brian and David, patiently taught the boys how to use the tools as they worked late into the night and their dedicated students, especially Alejandro, Giovani, Uriel and Irving, diligently handled any mistakes or setbacks with grace.

Brian, Lizandro, Alejandro and David, still working at night

Brian, Lizandro, Alejandro and David, still working at night

Four chairs remain at the children’s home for the students to see and use as a testament to their dedication and creativity as they eagerly joined in with this project. Six have been brought back to the US to become part of family homes here, in order to invite conversation about the hands that made them and the grace-filled work of Casa Hogar.

One of the finished chairs that remained at Casa Hogar.

One of the finished chairs that remained at Casa Hogar.

A special thanks to Brian Caslow and Geoff Nanton for their hard work during this project!