Sunday, December 18, 2011

power of making...

Victoria and Albert Museum has an exhibit called "Power of Making" and my readers might find as much interest in what is said about making as the objects themselves included in the exhibit. For instance,
"Thinking by making"
"Many people think that craft is a matter of executing a preconceived form or idea, something that already exists in the mind or on paper. Yet making is also an active way of thinking, something which can be carried out with no particular goal in mind. In fact, this is a situation where innovation is very likely to occur.

Even when making is experimental and open-ended, it observes rules. Craft always involves parameters, imposed by materials, tools, scale and the physical body of the maker. Sometimes in making, things go wrong. An unskilled maker, hitting the limits of their ability, might just stop. An expert, though, will find a way through the problem, constantly unfolding new possibilities within the process."
I take pleasure in the things I have made. I also take pleasure in what I've learned in making them. The new wooden hinge on the recipe box is an example. I had visualized how it would work and then made it. And in that is a sense of agency that psychologists will tell you is essential to human feelings of well-being.
This was the first wooden hinge of this design for me. Having done one, I can visualize now how to further refine the process and will do so before writing an article about how it is made. One of the things that worked for me in making this box was a decision that came late in the game, that of extending the hinge beyond the ends of the box. It is evidence of the thinking process that takes place during the process of making even the most simple of objects. The effect was to dramatize the wooden hinge making it an even stronger element of design.

In this month's Wooden Boat Magazine, the "Getting Started in Boats" supplement is by Joe Youcha describing how building a skiff teaches math. Joe runs a program for inner city youth to build boats at the Alexandria Seaport Foundation. The article is a wonderful example of what some of us know by heart: that we learn best, we learn most effortlessly, and we retain learning longest when that learning is hands-on doing real things. Like building a boat...

Make, fix and create...


  1. Power of Making is an excellent exhibition Doug and has been very well received it closes early Jan. The quote you use is almost certainly contributed by Glenn Adamson, an amazing thinker at V&A. He wrote a book called "thinking through craft" which I suspect you would enjoy.
    here he is

  2. Robin, Glenn and I have corresponded on the subject of Sloyd and my interest in writing an article for his magazine on the subject. One of those things I hope to get around to. Thanks for the link.