It has taken me forever to start this.
By forever, I mean since 2005 when The Chap thought it would be a good idea for me to have an online portfolio. At the time I was an architectural student, and yes, despite being a new century, was still a little perplexed by the world of the internet, still hand drew my drawings and never checked my emails. Over time, the portfolio was never quite updated, as I veered towards printing my work, the Ideas Exchange, on crisp cartridge paper, bound together in a blue cover by an artisan bookbinder in York.
Artisan. What do I mean by that?
A worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand (Oxford English Dictionary)
Mid 16th century: from French, from Italian artigiano, based on Latin artitus, past participle of artire ‘instruct in the arts’, from ars, art- ‘art’.
On some fundamental level, I was – am- drawn to having something to touch. Not necessarily for posterity – I’m not talking about sentimentality here. But there is something that makes your soul sing when you are handed an item that has been crafted together with extreme skill. A skill that has been learned over time, starting small and learning time honoured techniques, and then it gets even more exciting as you take those techniques and develop them into something new.
John Ruskin and William Morris had the right idea when they set about influencing society with the Arts and Craft Movement. With the ravages of the Industrial Revolution around them, the movement grew out of a deep concern about the loss of design and traditional skills, and the effect that this would have on society. Forget about the machine, people’s homes should be filled with beautiful and useful hand made items.
Ironically, this approach, although admirable in saving traditional skills and ‘good’ taste, meant that the final product was more often than not out of the reach of the working people that it set out to save from the slavery of the mills.
But does it have to be this way? Does ‘craft’ have to be purely about the handmade? Or how the media likes to portray it – homemade? Can it be about good design, crafting innovation from need? Can it be about engineering? Can it be about making something, and making it well?
So going back to the beginning. It has taking me forever to start this. It is like having a large sheet of pristine white paper on the drawing board, and it is the scariest thing in the world making the first mark. So much so, that the original idea has moved on, and I have something completely different to make. Therefore this venture is less about a portfolio showcasing what I have made, but more about an exploration about why we make. This is a blog – a diary if you will – about the knack of making.