RE: [MedievalSawdust] Re: Tools
- Jared Said:
>>>I was hoping to hear anothers take on the subject from a philosophic point
of view, and you put it beautifully.
I belive the balance you speak of, between quality and cost is what
plauges us all. A project that is of high enough quality to be
acceptable to me, and economical enough to sell, is not easy to accomplish,
it involves the construction standard terminology that I
call " perfect enuff ".
One of the challenges in judging A&S is setting aside contemporary standards
of what "good craftsmanship" is supposed to be, and attempting to achieve a
medieval ethic. My last competition piece, a 4' linen-fold panel chest, had
an appendix in the documentation titled "See, The Inside is SUPPOSED To Be
Butt-Ugly." I provided a dozen different examples of medieval pieces,
chests in particular, which were unfinished on the back, bottom, and inside,
expect where it would detract from the function. So in the area of
historical re-creation, this effort is wasted, making the piece "too
>>>I have long thought that art was what could not be taught, or maybe it
would be better defined as talent. I have often noticed how
someone who is machaniclly inclined, just has that ability and "gets" what I
am talking about, while those who are not machanical, cant be taught to any
real proficient level. While I couldnt call automotive work or fabrication
an art form, the ability to do it is related.
Now that depends on what you mean by "real proficient level." Barring a
severe learning disability, I'd say that ANYBODY can be taught woodworking
to the point of producing a "good, workman like job." But I may be
over-absorbing your point. I do encounter, regularly among my students
folks who, though they can work from a line drawing or make a reproduction
of anything in front of them, do not have facility for design, and have to
be taken stepwise through the process each time they produce a new piece.
>>>Because I hold the term artisan at such a high esteem, I would not refer
to myself as an artisan, partially because I hate to brag, and
because Im not sure Im really that good. This is probably my main reason
for trying to look at what really makes an artisan what he is.
Not that forming a technical definition of one would help any of us, or that
I would then refer to myself as one.
>>>Now here we, respectfully, part ways. A technical definition of an
"artisan" would help us communicate. I'm REAL big on shared vocabulary to
In that vein, I tend to use the term "artisan" casually, to mean anyone who
works in the static arts and produces "stuff," regardless of inherent
talent, skill, or experience. I tend to use the term "artist" for those who
elevate the craft beyond craftsmanship and into the realm of artistry.
>>>While I agree that craftsmanship can be taught, the individual still has to
have that degree of talent to ever get "really good". In woodwork, Im not
sure what this talent is called exactly, but it has as much to do with ones
devotion to the craft, as it does to the number of skills they have been
taught. By devotion, I mean, attetion to detail, and willingness to take
the time to do it right.
Ah. Okay, I see what you mean. I tend to think that anyone can be taught
craftsmanship, but there is also "facility" or "talent" that can't be
- Some years ago, I visited the Virginia Museum in Richmond with the lady who is now my wife. In the Mediaeval section there were several religious statues, including one of St. Denis with his head tucked underneath his arm (cue music about Anne Boleyn's ghost).When my lady friend asked why he was so depicted, I explained that martyrs were often depicted in ways that identified how they were martyred . . . at that time I hadn't heard the legend about him picking his head up and carrying it back to the church.A docent heard me and asked if I knew why another statue (I forget who it depicted) had these little glass or crystal panels in the chest. The identifying sign clearly described it as a reliquary statue, and I explained how the statue had at least originally contained some part of the saint's skeleton, probably a rib or two, considering where the panels were. She appreciated the explanation, and it left me wondering how much more about the works in that section she didn't know.When we visited the Treasure Houses of Britain exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, there were no docents anywhere in the Mediaeval/Renaissance area. I spent a lot of time explaining the armour, and both of us spent even more time explaining that the children in the family portraits were not all girls despite wearing dresses (boys not yet breeched) or that that was not a noble but a royal family (Henry VIII and all his children, who were never all together in one room like that), and so forth.But the armor and the paintings were right out there, and one could easily have touched them. My wife almost fainted a couple of times when I pointed out a detail in a painting, my finger about an inch away from the surface. "Don't touch it, don't touch it!" Well, I wasn't going to, but there were no barriers to it.RuefullyDonal
Sent: Thu, 15 Feb 2007 5:15 PM
Subject: RE: [MedievalSawdust] Tools
I will have to agree with you, Will. The museums I have visited in the US have the attitude that you shouldn't touch or photograph anything. This was a real shock to me when my wife and I managed a trip to London a few years ago. Unless it was cordoned off or behind glass, the British museum didn't seem to care if you were to actually touch such sculptures as the Discus Thrower or some of the carved lids on various Medieval tombs. This became especially apparent when the Egyptian exhibit came to Oklahoma city form the British Museum. The very same sculptures that I was permitted to touch in London were so off limits in my home town that I was given a hard time for leaning in too close. Also, the curators here on the States don't seem to know much, or they just won't sacrifice the time to talk with a mere amateur historian. Both at the British Museum and the Tower of London I was able to engage into in depth conversations with the experts, even to the point of being introduced to the curator of the Crown Jewels at the Tower. Most enjoyable and informative - and in London they were QUITE familiar with the SCA, showing enthusiasm for someone who obviously had a genuine interest. ; )In Magical Service,Malaki