Friday, May 05, 2017

dreaming of the past...

I spent so many years making my living solely from the making of wooden objects. I would ship things I had made to over 30 galleries across the US, and was always waiting for a check to arrive from one, and always hoping for more orders, and I can assure you that the life of an independent maker in the US is not a easy one.

Last night I dreamed that I needed to come up with some new project ideas to excite my market. And perhaps something will come up. I have all kinds of great ideas but the challenge is to find simple ones that can be easily made and that have significant perceived value. Perceptions of value are based on several factors. One is the usefulness of the object. Another is its beauty.  Another has to do with the materials from which an object is made. Another has to do its scarcity in relation to its desirability, and the sense of sophistication it might confer on the person who buys it. And another has to do with perceptions that one might have regarding the perceived difficulty in making. Bringing all those things into balance is a challenge because the maker also has to work with sufficient efficiency to make a living and a life from the process.

Writing and teaching have helped me in that I've not been quite so concerned about the efficiency of the process as money comes in from other sources. That gives me the opportunity to reflect from a bit more distance than would be the case if I was to worried as I once was whether some small check would come in time to help me pay the bank.

All of this I hope helps to describe what it takes to be a craftsman in America – to compete head to head with the mountains of manufactured things, that nearly overwhelm us.

Coming up with ideas for things to make is easy. What's not so easy is finding ideas for things that can be efficiently produced with a market in a world that's preoccupied with virtual experience and cares too little for the virtue of making and owning beautiful and useful things.

And yet, the need to make and create in tangible form calls out to the soul of man.

Today I will have volunteers in the ESSA wood shop. We will clean. We will build, and we will work toward having the shop ready for its first classes.

Make, fix, and create. See to it that others have what they need to learn likewise.

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