This Artisan Makes Sustainable Slingshots Out of Wood Foraged From Parks and Public Housing

(Photo: Shannon Barbour)

Usually Brooke Wade goes foraging for tree branches on her bike, but it’s in the shop right now. Today she’s heading over to McGlorick Park to dig through the huge stick pile, her favorite place to find branches that she’ll transform into slingshots. “This saw is really kind of too nice to be using for stuff like this, but it’s the fastest thing I can use. I feel a little silly sometimes so I always try to get in, get out.”

Before we went out to saw off some Y-shaped branchesWade collected 15we did some target practice in her kitchen, shooting multicolored pom poms at the lamps hanging above her countertop. “I really wanted to make something that was unique and adventurous,” she said. “It captures a mischievous spirit. In the city, especially, everything is so serious. It’s nice to have something to play with and imaginative.”

Wade also collects branches in public housing complexes like the Cooper Houses, which are usually planted with sycamore trees-the best for making slingers. She admits that it’s “definitely an exercise of privilege when I’m coming into this place, theoretically bringing a weapon [saw]. And I can do that because I’m white and I don’t know if kids who live there could really play with slingshots as thoughtlessly as I can.”

(Photo: Shannon Barbour)

Each potential branch is tested by Wade before she begins sawing. “If you can break it, it’s not strong enough,” she said. “If you can’t break it with your physical might, it’s okay.” Gaining more upper body strength has been a happy result of being a woodworker, a much different career than her previous one dancing for Cincinnati Ballet, which she said helped prepare her for woodworking. “Like ballet, it feels right or wrong when you’re doing it. Having a fluid motion. Having had practice in that is helpful. There’s a lot of timing and listening. Listening to the sound the tools are making and the…

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