Look at the two images above - a stained glass panel from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a portrait painting from the Louvre; both are in museums, both are considered art and both require skill to create; which was made by a craftsman and which was made by an artist? More importantly which is art and which is craft?
In the good ol’ USA, there is some confusion over what is Art vs. what is Craft. To most Americans, and maybe elsewhere in the world, “craft” implies hobbies that people pursue in their home or with friends, and even sold at “craft fairs” or online. What are these crafts? They are items with essential oils, making jewelry (at the kitchen table), knitting/crocheting scarves, sewing small baby items, small wood toys, and more.
But really, what is CRAFT.
The definition of CRAFT is an item made by a CRAFTSMAN. In a historical sense, particularly the Middle Ages and earlier, the term is usually applied to people occupied in small-scale production of goods, or their maintenance. On the very functional side we had carpenters, black/copper/tin smiths, carpenters, weavers and more. On the high end there were goldsmith (jewelry), silversmiths (functional tableware and more), glass blowers, tailors, wood workers and furniture makers. To become a master in your craft one had to progress through an apprenticeship program from apprentice to journeyman and finally master. This is where the term masterpiece come from, it was the piece you made which was submitted your guild or trade group would evaluate and deem that you had completed your training.
So then, what is Art?
Art has traditionally been described as – (read that as non-functional)
Noun: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. Along with the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.
In other words, something that evoke emotion and comes from emotion. Yet, most discussions do not discuss training and honing of the “craft”
Let’s take Opera and Painters as examples:
In Opera a singer is trained: learning not only to sing but to act, learn Italian, German, French and the other languages that Opera is sung in, etc. As they gain skill they can progress through the chorus until they are the Prima Donna; the lead singer.
For a painter in the medieval or renaissance period, they too went through an apprenticeship that taught them to draw, mix paints, build canvases, transfer the sketch to canvas. Eventually the apprentice is making sketches to assist with a large commission, even painting in the background and eventually getting commissions of their own; which is why many of those pieces of art are called masterpieces
Is it art or is it craft?
In this day and age the line between art and craft has greatly blurred. Many times, the artist is told to hone their craft (Note: The term hone comes out of bladesmithing which is traditionally a craft) thus they are a craftsman but what they produce is art. If you go into many art museums these days you will see works made by a master craftsman. Thus, a craftsman can also produce art!
This article from the Tate Museum in the UK and this article from the New York Times address these thoughts of how the lines between the two are blurring and this post.
Are you an artist, a craftsman or a crafter?
This has been a long time coming; I am re-branding The Adventurous Silversmith to ???? (as yet to be determined).
If you follow this website and/or me, then you know that I do more than just metal. I do Temari, Yubinuki, Sewing and Quilting, Weaving, and more. Thus calling myself the Adventurous Silversmith just doesn't cover it all and personally I think posting information about those things really does not tie into the name; so it is time for a change.
I am looking at changing the domain name, logo, and website theme BUT WAIT, The Adventurous Silversmith will still exist as part of the "new" website and the current URL will point to it as well.
The big question is what to call it? I am off to ponder. If you have a suggestion, put it in the comments
it has taken over 4 months..Over the weekend I unpacked 3 boxes of stake heads (on the left of the bench). i also laid down butcher block paper to stop stuff from falling through the holes and into the drawers. As well as organizing the items in the drawers and on the lower shelf.
Next I will assess the unpacked boxes and figure out what is needed in terms of cabinets, counter top and shelves plus the sink which was plumbed during the reno of the house.
Not much happening in the studio right now.
It is too hot - we have been near, at or above 100F for over a week now and it is to continue for another week. I might be able to do some chasing & repousse but....
I am too tired - the past few weeks at the day job have been very long and very stressful which means I am a bit metal burned out to think about working in the studio. I spent last Sunday watching some movies and I did it again yesterday and I am going to do it again today.
Hopefully next weekend my mental batteries will be recharged and I will do some metal work.
Today I am off to not only have dinner with friends but to get a photography "lesson" from William James Warren an amazing professional photographer. William, in my opinion has been a witness to many historical events and his pictures are well worth a good long look.
How did I meet William? I have been fortunate to have met him and become a friend through another recent friend (recent being 2 years) Ms. Lisa T, the awesome DBA who made me not hate working in Oracle. Note: I still don't love Oracle but we have come to an understanding; a mutual appreciation that we can both live with. After having dinner together several times over the past year, we connected via Facebook and started to trade puns and quips.
Recently having dinner and run away conversation which went late into the night, I asked about my photography as it relates to my metal work. William commented how he "liked" my in-process picture and how they had a naivety to them. Well of course they do; they are taken on the fly while I am working and to be accurate, they are taken on my desk, on the fly with no composition; no fancy lighting or other setup. It is just there on my wood Ikea desk with the computer keyboard or mouse in the background or on my workbench with all the tools and other detritus of the craft. The real issue is the "good" photographs I attempt to take of the finished pieces. These, I know I need help with so the proposal was made by me that we have dinner and I buy and in trade I get some pointers on how to take better pictures. Today is that day.
I have in preparation put into the car my camera, mini tripod,lights, and tent in addition to some of my cuffs and mineral specimens. I depart at 2:00 pm.
Here are two pictures - one of my messy bench and the other is from another metalsmith/jeweler (taken from his FB post without his permission). I think you can see I have a long way to go to be "messy".
I took another road trip to Texas and on the way back, the shop elf and I stopped at Potter USA. I got a new 12" shear and then spent time talking to Kevin about a jig I want for me and to sell. After that Kevin, Danielle, the shop elf and I just talked about stuff for three hours. During this time the shop elf discovered that his flashlight addiction has a name flashaholics - and that Kevin has it too. Danielle and I just rolled our eyes and did a bit of giggling at the two of them going on about water cooled flashlights.
Here are some pictures of the visit.
I am not big on New Year resolutions as I feel that is sets us to feel like a failure, when the next year comes around, because life, the universe, and everything else has conspired to keep us from those promises.
Instead, I set some goals knowing that some will be met and others will not but with some planning we are just a bit closer to accomplishing them.
But before I talk about what I want to do this year, I will review 2015 which as of today, is last year.
So what's up for 2016?
It won't be too different from last year because of the day job but getting those tools and the fixture(s) made to sell will be the biggie for me. So stay tuned for more.
Back in January, I made a musical tin for my friend Lisa, who is not only an awesome DBA (database administrator) but a musician too. If you did not read the blog post, I have to tell you the following so you are up to speed on this next part. I made the tin so it could hold her guitar auto-tuner and then we found it that the tin was a bit too small and so it would turn on and drain the battery in the tuner. I knew I had to make a new tin for her and her tuner.
Then, in April, I then "borrowed it" so it could be photographed for an article that will appear in the November issue of Art Jewelry magazine and they have had it since then.
Since Lisa's birthday is this weekend, I decided to make her that new tin and do my entry for the Facebook Chasing & Repousse group challenge #4 - FISH at the same time.
I decided that I would do a pun based upon the REO Speedwagon album "You Can Tune a Piano, but You Can't Tuna Fish" and put a Blue Fin TUNA on the tin and this time I would dome the lid of the Altoid tin so the TUNER not TUNA would fit inside.
Two weekends ago, I started. I removed the paint from the lid and domed it. I then located some line art of a Blue Fin Tuna and scaled it to fit on the lid. Then I put the lid in the pitch bowl and lined it. After the lining, I flipped the lid in the pitch bowl so I could to the repousse and form the fish.
This past Friday, I did the repousse and then flipped the lid again and put it back into the pitch bowl so I could to the final chasing and detail work. On Saturday I finished the chasing, pulled the lid from the pitch and cleaned the extra pitch from the inside and outside of the lid. Sunday I was able to apply the solvent dye patina to create a sea blue background and get the coloring on the Tuna correct.
While all of this was going on, I was posting images of the tin lid to Facebook and tagging Lisa with the comments about ....Tuna Fish.
We then made arrangements to go to dinner, for her birthday, yesterday after work. We of course went for Sushi (get the fishie theme going on here?). At Lisa's I showed her the tin and she just loved it - and she still did not know it was her present. I asked her to get her TUNER, not a fish, so we could see if it fit without turning it on; and it did!!! That is when I told her that she now had a TUNA fish for her tuner - and the evil deed was done. Lisa then got the pun and her present all at the same time.
and oh, by the way the musical tin was waiting for me when I got home YESTERDAY.
Yesterday, I found in my messages area of Facebook, a message from a young woman. She lives in Cornwall and is at the university there studying Silversmithing and Jewellery. She was asking me to fill out a questionnaire for one of her classes. My response was OF COURSE I WOULD.
I did think it was cool that she was asking me. I don't know who else was asked but hey, if someone from the other side of the pond wants to ask me questions about I started, who am I to argue. Plus I find it interesting that part of a class has the students asking other silversmiths or any artist some questions to how others got started.
I won't share my responses, I think you can figure them out yourself - especially if your read this blog. But I thought you would like to see the questions asked.
FdA Silversmithing and Jewellery - Work based Learning module.
Questions for the Craftsman