handmade jewelry & metalsmithing

Handwork

This morning I read a nice essay by Bruce Metcalf on the eternal debate of art vs. craft. I'll boil it down for you; his stance is agreeing with Arthur Danto that art is "embodied meaning" and the object is limitless, while craft implies some amount of handwork. He likes to keep the designations separate, while others like to blur the lines. For myself, I appreciate the separate realms, because when I studied "art" we had to talk about what makes something art ad nauseum, and everything we made we junked in the trash after crits. When I studied craft, we skipped the banter, learned how to use tools and the focus was on creating objects and learning techniques. Our crits were so much less an exercise in selling your idea, and we actually learned as well as gained inspiration from discussing the pieces together. There's so much more to be learned from a well-crafted object, than "art projects" that are basically an exercise in visual communication. When you "get" the meaning of a work of art, it's nice to continue to be awed by the skill of the maker, and the nature of the medium, and the way the piece interacts with its environment. I would definitely agree that art and craft are separate realms, craft is like a thick rope made up of a lot of different strands, and art is like a single thread with a lot of weight on it.

I've been having a bit of spring fever since we've had snow dumped on us for more than a week, so I've been working on themes of flowers and colored stones. If my gem order doesn't arrive soon with more colors, I'm going to start mining for my own in the mountains! I've never been a fan of gems, but it's creeping up on me. Maybe it's the long-term exposure to Leslie Hall. In the meantime, I've made these, which take a different route to floral representation. I've made the sculptural flowers pictured below, so with these I represent the outline of a floral motif with saw-work.

I love the simplicity of these little blossoms. Today I'm going to get started on some larger floral forms for pendants. I used to try to avoid floral motifs in jewelry, as it's done so often, but there are endless approaches to it. And they go so nicely with birds, which I've been into lately.

These turned out very simple and charming I think. They have a hammered texture and a very wiggly delicate line, so they look very old and comforting to me. They make me think of a motif from hand-stitching on a quilt, with their wandering tendrils- a good way to interpret flowers in the winter.

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2 responses

  1. Teri Holland

    Thoughtful perspective. Bethan and I have had this discussion several times. We will have to renew our discussion since you are bringing it up!

    January 21, 2011 at 9:49 p01

  2. You have described this so well. Well done for sharing.

    August 30, 2015 at 9:49 p08

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