Greetings from Mauritania

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Blog entry by Vaskerville posted 02-17-2013 02:15 PM 1374 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been lurking around LJ for some time now and I’m not sure why I’ve never posted but here goes – a little about me to begin with…

I’m a graphic designer originally from Seattle but now living in Mauritania (Africa). I have been here for a few years as my wife, who is an architect, is working for an institutional donor.

Years ago I created a project called Indexhibit, which was amongst the first of its kind at the time (now Adobe is one of our competitors – ouch), to create conceptual index + exhibit style websites. I’m sure you have seen one or two, or at least ones inspired by the idea, around the web. I invite everybody who reads this to play with our system – it’s perfect for focusing on showing work (instead of focusing on the design of a website).

I started woodworking not long ago because pushing pixels and working in the virtual started to drive me nuts – I needed to make something I could touch (since I haven’t been doing print work for years now).

Woodworking in Mauritania is not quite what you would expect. While most traditional cultures have true craftsman classes these people were nomads until 50 years ago. They do not have a vast visual or musical cultural – their culture was mostly oral and they are seen as some of the best poets in the Arab world.

When you visit a woodshop here it’s not uncommon to find floors of sand, unsharp and rather rudimentary tools. For instance, I once saw a person using a grinder as a sander to get the seams of a door to match up – which was complicated because the wood was already visibly warping and the person was working out in the open in an extremely hot sun. If you don’t cure the wood yourself here, it’s not cured. On many occasions I have noticed things in peoples homes suffering for that reason.

I don’t normally walk into a persons place and start snapping photos so I don’t have any to show – but I’ll try to ask permission in the future while visiting. I just felt it was about time to make a post.

6 comments so far

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3450 days

#1 posted 02-17-2013 03:08 PM

Thanks for sharing. I often give that advice to my 10 years old son.As any other child of his age today, loves to play with video games. The problem with that “world” is, the brain is subjected to a lot of activity and information while the rest of the body is iddle. That’s why parents today are dealing with a buch of behaviors in kids and all sort of disorders. There is a natural interaction between body and mind, and the constant re-creation with the sourrounding enviroment, so vital no only in kids but in every human being.

I’m sure you have availability of all the precios woods that are so expensive here in US….....when reading your posting, carving comes to mind….

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3992 days

#2 posted 02-17-2013 04:00 PM

Vaskerville, Welcome, been though you have been around a while. Glad to see your post and look forward to seeing some future posts. Interesting background for you locale, also I will have to check out your software as my wife and I are currently debating a new website.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View Charles Maxwell's profile

Charles Maxwell

1099 posts in 3864 days

#3 posted 02-17-2013 04:14 PM

Welcome, thanks for your post and stepping up to the plate. I look forward to your posts from Mauritania. Could be very interesting for all of us. Perhaps you might find LJs useful in transforming a few interested locals into poet woodworkers. After all, fine woodwork is poetry in wood! Hope to hear from you soon.

-- Max the "night janitor" at

View a1Jim's profile


117160 posts in 3634 days

#4 posted 02-17-2013 04:36 PM

Good to here from you.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Vaskerville's profile


8 posts in 2382 days

#5 posted 02-17-2013 04:51 PM

We basically have four kinds of woods here…

Padauk – but it’s totally not cured and will warp crazy on you. I’ve been curing a few slabs for a year now.

Fraque – I don’t know what it’s really called. It’s a greyish hardwood but it can fracture on you very randomly. I don’t really like it’s appearance but it’s only light’ish wood to work with.

Plywood – very poor quality plywood – no idea what it’s composed of.

White wood – a light white wood that I can only describe as something a bit harder than balsa. We see people building basic shelves with it. Personally, I wouldn’t want something built with it.

View Ken90712's profile


17564 posts in 3245 days

#6 posted 02-17-2013 05:00 PM


-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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