19th Century Values

It is with some trepidation that I enter this sphere of the constantly self-conscious, the diligently self-referential. But if wide receivers can point to their heart and then to the sky for performing their job, why then can’t I?

We at the Studio are firmly entrenched in values once held dear in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is so far afield from what passes as important today that it seems almost laughable to be engaged in this activity. Those interested in the work of the Studio should know this from me, the fearful leader: that we are swimming upstream against a mighty current. A current of the ephemeral, of the transient, the quick buck and the quick turnover.

Where art is good only if it will appreciate in value to the buyer, where craft is relegated to a sorry weak sister position in a society that values nothing like honest effort or good design, but seemingly only a quick return on investment. Where loyalty is a commodity like mineral rights in the corporate world, easy to mine, and easy to throw away. Where skills are assumed to be gotten by pressing a button, getting more memory, or buying a new tool. A society that believes that Mastery comes easily and in a short time if you just have money enough.

Consider this. I have to remind myself of it. It takes years to prepare oneself to do the work. Years of effort, day in and day out. Sun rise and sun set. Working at the bench, making mistakes, taking your time, throwing your hammer, smiling in gratitude for a job that goes well, cursing in new tongues the practiced tasks that fail. It takes time for you to one day be able to just pick up the tool, the pencil, the chisel, the paint brush and with no more effort than brushing a hair from your face, make a mark that is precise, elegant, and just what you wanted. It is a revelation in need of constant revealing to us all that this instant takes years of preparation.

So you want to learn woodworking? You want to master this craft? Go study it for 20 years. You’ll start to get the hang of it. But isn’t that a wonderful thing to be doing with your time? Instead of waiting to buy the next Xbox?

Published in: on February 20, 2008 at 5:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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