Puzzles and one solution

5 November 2006

I was at dinner last night with some collegues that own a gallery and are both makers. We were discussing the role of hand craftman made objects in our world and yours too. We start from the assumption that hand-made objects reflect the heart, head and hand of the maker. Some of the questions we asked are:

What is the quality that these objects have that industrially made objects don’t have?
What qualities do those made by master-craftsman have that differs from that made by a hobbists/novice?
Are these objects endowed with properties that are a reflection of their maker’s culture and times? Thus would the object have the same properties if she designed it and had it made in China/Thailand (you fill a country with low labor costs)?

Please share any thoughts you might have.
So today I happened on this information on Chandra Shroff. What an amazing project, the genius is in it’s simplicity! No teaching or preaching or forgein consultants on how to make colors that will sell in some far off land. The project is based on love and respect for the women’s work. The work is stimulating pride and quality. What a cultural treasure she has created with this collection of panels. I hope these women and their daughters always have access to them. I would travel to see them, and probably be stimulated and learn a thing or two.
P.S. Did you see all the shibori in the video?

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4 Responses to “Puzzles and one solution”

  1. RacheLyra Says:

    That video is amazing. It raises another question and answers it all at once – as we come to terms with the difficulties inherent in marketing handcrafts in a machine-priced world, how can the poorest reaches of the globe navigate the opportunities presented to them by this same disparity?

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  2. glennis Says:

    *What is the quality that these objects have that industrially made objects don’t have?
    There is generally no one maker in an industrially produced object. When industrializing a process, the connection between the maker and the end result is diminished. Even if the object continues to be made by hand, often it passes through many hands, each performing its separate duty. often a single maker (or a collaborative team of makers) may change course during the making of an object (for a variety of reasons) and the end result becomes something else. How many times have you made something and in the process seen something or learned something that has caused you to take a different direction? Often the results of these course changes are most exquisite.
    I would say that hand-made objects have an “ah-ha” element or at least the potential for one. You don’t always end up where you think you will. I like that!
    *What qualities do those made by master-craftsman have that differs from that made by a hobbists/novice?
    I think of master-craftsman as someone who has explored in depth the process, perhaps the history of a craft and has spent substantial time practicing, learning and exploring their art form (oops-said the “A” word). A hobbyist/novice is breaking the surface but not necessarily devoted to the craft/practice by choice. The difference in the end result of the object is probably most apparent to the maker them self. I have seen exquisite works created by master-craftsman and hobbyists/novices alike-this is a difficult question for me to answer.
    *Are these objects endowed with properties that are a reflection of their maker’s culture and times?
    I believe this is true. I love to wander museums and look at crafts from other places and times. I always fantasize about who the maker was and the environment in which the object was made often comparing it to objects in my daily life. Could I make it? Would I? Why?
    *Thus would the object have the same properties if she designed it and had it made in China/Thailand (you fill a country with low labor costs)?
    NO! Don’t get me started on this one……this is a completely different thing in my book. I have seen the results of this many, many, many times. And its effects on 1.) the original maker, 2.) the end product , 3.) the marketplace.
    Even if you take an object and have it made by hand here, under your own supervision there is a difference. As artists, craftsman, hobbyists, and novices
    we choose our result and our path.
    Thanks for the link and yes, I saw the shibori (2nd time ’round).

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  3. Karren Says:

    Rachel Lyra,
    I think that Ms.Shroff is navigating a much more subtle field of questions. Selling things hand-made from a country with low wages, such as India, in the US is not a challenge. The Market Place, http://www.marketplaceindia.org/mp33/default.asp , is an admirable outlet for such , and the their slogan is “dignity, not charity”. Read some of the entries under Voices of Artisans to see how moving some of their stories are.
    However the the issue here is very different I think. Just as I feel that the world would be a duller place if we all spoke English (there is still proably a role for Esperanto) because language encourages one to think of things in different ways. I also think that the world would be a duller place with a common aesthetic. Ms. Shroff is reinforcing THEIR aesthetic, not trying to get them to conform to ours. So my world is richer for her work.

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  4. RacheLyra Says:

    That’s what I mean! Selling “hand-made” vertically across that economic disparity is easy – what’s amazing about that project is that she’s managing to do so in a locally beneficial way that also produces a quality product. I wish there were more projects like that – it’s a shame that so often people must feel bad for purchasing imported goods. I’m delighted that there are ways to exploit this beneficially.

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