Tuesday, January 24, 2017

slow making

The boxes at left are newly finished Shaker boxes by two of my students.The following is an earlier post (April 3, 2011) that was picked up and published also by the Unitarian Universalists. 
We've all heard of the slow foods movement. The idea of making things quickly, too easily, thus providing empty calories for the creative soul is a notion we should explore, and thence avoid as unhealthy for the human spirit. Blog reader Amy sent the following quote from a novel, Always Coming Home, by Ursula K. LeGuin:
"It was a good thing for me to learn a craft with a true maker. It may have been the best thing I have done. Nothing we do is better than the work of handmind. When mind uses itself without the hands it runs the circle and may go too fast; even speech using the voice only may go too fast. The hand that shapes the mind into clay or written word slows thought to the gait of things and lets it be subject to accident and time. Purity is on the edge of evil, they say."
One of the things that can slow a person down in woodworking is the knowledge that what one makes can last a hundred years or more. When an item is crafted with useful beauty in mind, it transcends not only the years it may last, but also the need one might feel to hurry in its making. What are the few extra minutes to do things right when each moment of attention is witnessed in the finished piece for such a lengthy span of time? What's the rush in the light of generations?

We have become so impulsive, so undeliberative in our actions, that I urge my readers to contemplate the very slow making of things. Can we invest greater mind through the application of conscious attention of greater magnitude in the making of the things that fill our lives and awaken our sense of beauty? And what would the effects of such actions be?

It seems that much of our hurry is driven by the metaphor, "time is money." But time is not money. It is the opportunity to invest care, carefulness, attention, listening. What if our new metaphor for time was craftsmanship?

Make, fix and create, that others may learn to love learning likewise.

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