Transformation Tuesday: Turn Mealtime from Rush to Ritual

Reader Contribution by Jessica Kellner and Editor
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 A friend recently told me she summons the family to dinner by sending them text messages. Hey, it’s better than shouting through the house, right? It reminded me of the old-fashioned dinner bell, when the farm wife would clang a bell to call the family to the dinner table. What if we reclaimed some of that pre-meal ritual to begin our meals with the familiar sound of a dinner gong, which invokes a feeling of ceremony, instills harmony and calls people forth to a nourishing meal?

This fun dinner gong is made with a castoff pan lid (if you don’t have an unmatched lid, you’re sure to find one at a thrift store), but a secondhand cymbal, old hubcap or any resonant metal surface would do just as well. Hang the lid-turned-gong on a freestanding base made of reclaimed lumber, and whoever makes dinner can clang the gong, signifying the beginning of the evening meal. 

Reclaimed scraps of 2-by-4
Disposable wooden chopsticks
Wooden spoon
An old pan lid, cymbal, hubcap or other metal surface

How-To: 1. The gong stand’s “legs” are 1/2- by 3-inch salvaged boards cut 12 inches long. Using a jigsaw, cut a 11/2-inch-square hole centered about 11/2 inches from the end.

2. Use chopsticks for the “pins” that fasten the pieces of the stand together. Cut the sharp tips off the chopsticks and use 21/4 inches of the tapered section for the joint at the base. Cut the top section 23/4 inches long and round the tips with sandpaper.

3. For the crosspiece, cut a salvaged 2-by-2 board 18 inches long with a 45-degree angle at each end. Then drill a 3/8-inch hole 5 inches from each end. Slide the legs onto the crosspiece through the square holes and stand it up.

4. The top pin will enter the drilled hole in the crosspiece from the outside of the leg and exit through the inside, pinning the structure together. You may need to enlarge the underside of the hole for the pin to get through; a hammer tap might help.

5. The base is a salvaged board, wider than the legs, cut 21 inches long. Set the stand on the base and mark the outside of the legs for a 3/16-inch hole. Tap in the bottom pin, which will keep the stand’s legs from spreading outward.

6. A rat-tail file makes a notch where the wooden spoon striker sits atop the gong. The pan lid or tile blade can be suspended on a leather or nylon lace.

Project by Susan Wasinger. Buy her book Sewn by Hand here!

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