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Serious Business

     I riveted a steel handle onto a tin can, and I made a label: "Pencils 10¢".
     This was a prop for my show. I always have a questions-and-answers segment following the recital, so if somebody asks me what I really do, I bring out the can of pencils and rattle it.
      At the end of one show a man came up leading a little solemn boy by the hand, and he said, "My son would like to buy one of your pencils." My first thought was, "My props!"
     But recollecting myself, I got out the can and held it down to the boy, and told him he could pick out any pencil he liked. This he did, very seriously. So what with the tip that the boy's father gave me, I made 90¢ on the deal.
      Later on, I was regretting that it hadn't occurred to me to give the change to the boy, to show him a more authentic business model. 


    I got my start as a maker when I was about four years old. I would sit outside by the chicken wire fence, and bend the wires back and forth until they broke, then twist them back together into different patterns. By the time I was five, I had graduated to using pliers, nails, and a hammer. My workshop was in the low crotch of a tree, where I would bang in the nails, and use the pliers to twist the wires around and across them.
    A friend came over one time, and I asked him if he was interested to see my workshop. He said he was, so we climbed the tree and I showed him the various nails sticking here and there, and the twisted pieces of wire connecting them. I had a story and an explanation for each part of the work in progress; for instance, this particular nail was intended to be banged in deeper, but had bent over, so I had been obliged to put in this other nail next to it. My friend listened to my explanations very attentively. After I had shown him everything, I felt grateful: to have such a friend, who took my work as seriously as I did.