I want children to have some regard for the objects in their lives. Even the things that were made largely by machine were made with some investment of human care. Most of the things that inhabit our children's lives and garner their avid attention are designed to last no longer than the next iteration of the device. That cycle from manufacturer to hand to landfill is designed to move as quickly as possible to maintain the economy and the economic interests of our manufacturers. But we pay a steep price.
What about reverence? What about care, and what about respect? Are these things no longer necessary in our relationship with the objects that we are allowed to touch, and should children be taught to show respect?
It seems children are no longer exposed to things that are hand-made unless they are behind ropes or glass in museums where the objects are safe from hands untrained in care, reverence and respect. And since they also have not been blessed with being makers and of knowing what it means to create useful beauty, our objects are at risk throughout American culture.
But there is another side to things. When we slow down to care for something, there are profound changes taking place inside. I am reminded of a visit with Father Richard Clark when I was at his church to talk about building new altar furnishings. We walked through a passageway at the rear of the church that held sacred things. Even without others present to observe his behavior, his expression reverence in the presence of these things was immediate and sincere.
If we learn to treat objects with care, do we not also learn to care more deeply for ourselves and for each other? By failing to engage our children in making useful beauty, and failing to teach them in the care of beautiful things, I suspect we do great damage to them and our human culture at the same time.
Restoration Values is about a small team of craftsmen in Austin, Texas building exquisitely crafted small homes they call "bungalitos". It is unusual to find articles about the building trades in American Craft so I was pleased.
Founded by John Hindman Red River Restorations grew out of a need to make doors and windows to fit houses needing restoration.
Old houses remind us that there's another way to live. "Our society has changed a lot in the past 100 years," he says, pausing. " ‘A lot' is too small of a [phrase] for how much it's changed." A culture of cheap and fast has crowded out values like quality, durability, and craftsmanship. And it's those values that Hindman is out to restore, one building at a time.
“The body becomes a tool in one way or another,” said Shane Shannon as he chips away a layer of caulk on a late-1800s window. “I may have a hammer in my pouch, but I find myself using myMake, fix, and create...
hand instead.” His sturdy hands are calloused from years of working with tools,
but today, they are required to do a finer job.
“You think it’s mostly masculinity and hard work that gets the job done, but it’s really more about finesse,” he added. Shannon is a woodworker.