Thursday, August 05, 2010


You can see that I am making progress on my wall hung shaker cabinet. I am not sure how useful a cabinet can be hung from a shaker peg, so I have built in another form of hanger strip at the back to make the cabinet useful, and easily moved as necessary.

It is interesting to consider shaker furniture as examples of the truth of Oscar Wilde's proclamation that "All beautiful things are made by those who strive to make something useful." And I want to reassert that the notion of usefulness is not confined to the most practical of human concerns. Shaker work was designed to illustrate more than its mere usefulness. It attempted to demonstrate simplicity as an economic and social value. And so, there are many who are drawn to shaker designs without ever thinking about what use the object really offers.

I had a conversation yesterday with botanical illustrator and founder of the Minnesota School of Botanical Art Illustrators, Marilyn Garber. Her work, beyond it's marketable and economic values and the personal rewards of working at such a high level of expertise lies in its educational purpose.

Botanical illustrators are on a mission to open our eyes to what we are missing and what we neglect as a result. Is that as useful as making a place to keep your toilet paper? No doubt, you will find work more beautiful when it opens our eyes to things we may have previously missed.

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