Yesterday our friend Cory Kirk came to visit and brought a baguette made by his father, Tony. While I have not made it to France just yet, I have studied and made and tried lots of French and other artisanal breads. In my opinion, Tony’s bread was exactly what I expect to find when I finally do make it to France. It was crusty, chewy, tasty, and fragrant. Cory explained that his dad started making bread a few years ago, that it is a good craft for someone with a mathematical mind like Tony has. This made me very happy because Cory obviously realizes the connection between math and bread.
Bread making, along with other types of cooking and baking, are completely enmeshed with math and science. Anyone who bakes from scratch can tell you that just having a good recipe to follow does not guarantee success. The protein content of the flour, the mineral content of the water, the ambient temperature and humidity of the kitchen, and many other subtle factors can greatly affect the outcome. If you are a fan of Rachel Ray, you know that she does not bake. How many times have you ever seen Rachel use a measuring cup or a scale? Not often! Rachel is a freestyle, improvisational cook while baking requires more precision and analytical thinking.
My husband has heard so many times, "quilting (or knitting, or sewing) is not for dummies!" Just ask anyone who has ever attempted to teach or learn these arts. The new crafter finds very quickly that it is all about the math! Again, you can be an improvisational quilter and produce very nice quilts like the famous Gee’s Bend quilts, but pieced quilts require loads of analytical thinking, calculations, and precision work to complete. These crafts also require visual spatial intelligence, an ability defined by wisegeek.com as "comprehending three-dimensional images and shapes" and "interpreting dimensions of space that cannot be seen." Does it sound complicated? It is, especially if it does not come naturally to you.
Anything involving color involves science. Something as simple as selecting a paint color for your home calls for considering the type and temperature of the light in the space to be painted, the other materials and colors involved and how they will affect the perception of the color, and how the qualities of the color chosen will affect the mood and subconscious thought patterns of the people who will be using the room. Well, maybe that last one is more in the realm of commercial designers, but it certainly would help to apply that to our homes. An example is my mother’s bedroom and adjoining bathroom, which are painted with the exact same color of paint, but are never the same color. All of the above-mentioned factors make the paint appear to be a warm gray in the bedroom while the bathroom is very obviously lavender!
Once a man told me that his son was finishing up his doctorate in music with a major in percussion. I thought, "how does that work?" But music is sound and sound, of course, can be studied scientifically and mathematically. Sounds’ interactions with other materials, especially with the human body, are fascinating even for amateurs like me.
Let me spell out my main two points here: First, math and science are important in everyday life, no matter how much school kids like to convince themselves otherwise. If nothing else, the study of these subjects provide a disciplined workout for the brain, developing it for challenges to come. Second, creative, artsy-craftsy people are usually very intelligent people whether they have had formal schooling or not. It takes complex thinking and perceiving to make creative pursuits work. If you could all taste a bite of Tony’s bread, you would understand completely. (ThanksTony!) SpringCreekArtsGuild@gmail.com.