Wednesday, November 21, 2012

not one-of-a-kind making...

There is an article in this month's American Craft Magazine about 8 artists who've gone from one-of-a-kind making to mass production.  The the article in part looks at situations where a craft artist turns "designer" and sells his or her designs to industry to mass produce. But some of the craft artists featured do keep hands on the nitty-gritty and continue to make. One of those featured is Thomas Moser, maker and designer of fine furniture.

My back-to-back commissions to make a total of 800 boxes along with my smaller more normal production  seems to have put my own work temporarily into mass mode. But with the character of real wood offering its advantages, each piece can still retain a sense of being unique. Mass production was started with the ancient Greeks.

There are valuable lessons to be learned about efficiency and organization when one makes the leap from few to larger numbers of work. There are also necessary refinements of operation that must take place that give lasting benefits to one-of-a-kind work. As a custom furniture maker, I've always used making boxes as my fall-back position... keeping cash flowing when I had no customers for larger work. Who could have known that box making could be such a big deal?

There are some important things that happen when a craftsman is pushed in this way. Perhaps the most important is that he or she must begin sharing by training others to do the work. And so I am grateful to have the help of one diligent craftsman in making boxes. He is pleased to be learning box making and further developing his skills.

At CSS this last week we began our annual toy making event with children from first through 6th grades making toys to give to children through our local food bank during the holiday season. It is a necessary lesson in creativity and generosity. In essence, the young craftsman is busily making him or her self.

With our school off today for the Thanksgiving recess, I and my assistant will be making boxes.

A reader asked if I was familiar with N.F.S. Grundtvig founder of the Danish Folk Schools whose image is shown at left... Grundtvig offers one more avenue to explore concerning the Wisdom of the Hands. The folk school was a concept that circled throughout Scandinavia, with proponents in Finland (Cygnaeus) and Sweden (Rudenschold).

I have come to the conclusion that schools, rather than be shaped to uniform standards, should draw upon the character of their unique communities. The notion of a folk school suggests that what is is of value, not what others superimpose that it should be. And so rigidly applying one formula to another place would be a violation of the underlying principles. With this in mind, it makes sense for farming communities to farm, fishing communities to fish, and for each community follow the examples of craftsmanship in its own heritage.

Make, fix and create...

No comments:

Post a Comment