On time and making

1 August 2007

I met a woman yesterday in an encounter that managed to push some of my buttons. The thoughts keep rolling around in my head, they have not yet coalesced, but I thought putting some thoughts out there might help me.
The woman that I met introduced herself as a jewelery maker which I interpertued as a kindred spirit. Every question that came out of her mouth was related to how long did that take. Wow, that must take a long time! That must be tedious and time-consuming. Clearly this is a woman in the throes of time-poverty; she has a daughter, husband, job and hobby.
But is the making things faster the same as making them better?
~industry is the best at making many things fast. I do not want to compete with industry, I will lose. Therefore I want to have different values for judgiing what I do– making it faster is not necessarily better for me. Clearly just making the same thing that industry makes but doing it slowly is not what I am after. Is there something, something interesting, that that industry can’t make that I can make? Some of this was discussed previously in an entry,’Slow Fashion
~I could be a designer instead of a maker if just the idea is important. If I am going to design and make then my hand, the hand of the maker, must leave a distinctive imprint on the object.
~What are the criteria for judging what I make? My criteria, others criteria? I must be proud of the quality and what the ideas that it embodies. It must have value for others too to keep it from being just a self-indulgence. But who; customers, other artists/makers, critics, museums…? Clearly if I want to sell then it has to be customers. If I want to be in museums than it has to be critics/curators.
~What about the textiles that I admire, were they made with speed of completion as a value? When I study ancient Andean textiles, they are exquisite (1, 2, ).
Image from VMC.http://www.textilemuseum.ca/cloth_clay/research_chancay.html
They were made with very simple technology. No advanced technology today can duplicate them, the only way to make them is with the same simple technology and skill and time. How did people who had a much shorter life expectancy, and much more physcial labor involved in the daily tasks of life, eating, shelter and personal hygine, have so much more time to dedicate to making of such textiles. Oh yeah, they had to raise the animals, spin, weave the cloth of every day life too. But then the way to power and wealth in the Wari (Huari) civilization was to make the most beautiful Four Corner Hat!
Image from this site.


4 Responses to “On time and making”

  1. jude Says:

    great post and great link too, i have been unplugged for very long, trying to experience the true time in the making of a textile. it is amazing that with all the modern technology we have only compromised both quality and possibility. i enjoy your blog very much.


  2. glennis Says:

    If you ask me how long a piece of my work takes to complete, I am likely to answer, “A lifetime”. I too, believe in making things which are marked with the distinctive imprint of the maker’s hand. I feel driven to create things which are inherently unique and unreproducible- for things that are marked with the traditions of the past but with a contemporary viewpoint.
    I feel that we are losing an appreciation for this in our world………an appreciation for the handmade process and for things made one at a time, for work where one of the measurable dimensions of the artwork is time itself.
    I have always been drawn to create for the customer, the end user as opposed to critics and curators. I suppose it is because I like to consider aesthetics in everyday objects in addition to the fact that it provides me a means of support.
    I liked your use of the term “time poverty”. Another stimulating post- thanks.


  3. KellyT Says:

    I think TV is one of the main contributions to “time poverty”.


  4. Marguerite Says:

    Thank you for this post, my thoughts exactly. I am trying to figure out how to market to the customer and not be tied down by “the time it takes”. People always ask “how long did it take” to make something (handwoven/hand dyed scarves often using handspun yarn).


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