Saturday, September 26, 2009
A beautiful box
Leonard James, a student of mine from Marc Adams School sent me photos of a box he had recently completed and had given to his local Rotary fund raising auction. It is a beautiful box as you can see. The hinges used are Brusso brass hinges that cost about $30.00. Only someone who who has had the experience of making something beautiful from wood could really understand what goes into making such a thing.
Leonard informed me that the box sold for $100.00. Can you see what is happening here? Another friend of mine had sold a box with hand cut dovetails at a charity auction for a small fraction of its value in terms of time and materials, and the buyer asked if she could get another at the same price, not realizing that asking someone to work for such a low wage would be an insult.
There is a complete disconnect in people's minds concerning the value of hand made things. Sometimes when I show my work at public events, people want to know, "How long did it take to make that?" They want a way to calculate my hourly rate in a world that is largely incomprehensible to them. In all likelihood, and in complete innocence they've never actually made anything themselves and have no clear way of understanding the value of hand-crafted work.
But, where is the real value of the crafted object? Otto Salomon, founder of Educational Sloyd said that the value of the carpenter's work is in the object, but in contrast, the value of the student's work is in the student. It can be sad to let evidence of learning go so cheap, but the passage clears the way for the next, even more beautiful expression of growth.
My heartfelt congratulations to Leonard for his generosity and beautiful craftsmanship. My congratulations as well to the lucky person who purchased a bargain heirloom of lasting value. Those small objects made with love have ways of influencing things, bringing qualities unexpected into the home, unanticipated sparks of transformation. I am looking forward to seeing Leonard's next project.