As a crafts person, your life tends to distill into the pursuit of technique. Musicians often say that you learn scales to forget them. The goal of practicing scales is to implant them into muscle memory, to essentially push the concepts into the subconscious.
The same is true for craft. Which is to say, it is attention to small details and the willingness to do things over and over again which leads to improvement. In that sense, a certain tolerance to drudgery is required. My wife and I have been full time craftspeople for a significant portion of our lives.
Lots of times, our vocation is incredibly rewarding. It brings me a lot of pleasure to know that something that I made with my own hands is being used in thousands of homes all over the world. We know from conversations with our customers, that our rations have been gifts for important milestones in the lives of so many people.
That is the fundamental trade-off of craft. As a person you are afforded the freedom to live in accordance with your values, but like all things, it comes at a price. That price is work. Which is something that I love, but I know too that not everyone would love the sort of work we do.
Part of what gives our work meaning is the meaning we put into the things around us. A small leather tray has utility as a spot for keys and wallets and so on, but it has meaning as a gift.
Occasionally, we like to undertake a project that extends beyond the routine of our craft. Years ago, I spent some time working in museum fundraising. Back then, the Andy Warhol museum, which is part of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh was doing an exhibition called Possession Obsession.
Warhol was a ravenous collector who threw nothing away. After his death, his collections were archived into boxes and eventually sent to his museum.
The Possession Obsession exhibition gave the public a chance to see the items the artist collected.
Warhol’s genius, of course, was drawing the audience into the notion that commercial art is indeed art. He used consumer products in his own life, his wigs, his glasses his Cartier Tank wristwatch that he famously never wound, to curate an expression of self.
We gather objects in what we collect because they contain snippets of meaning. Our latest project, which we are calling Object Inspired, is about the things we collect, their stories and our connection to them.