Friday, March 30, 2012

The dichotomy of making.....

There can be skill and craft in production, even in the midst of consumption. 
So a celebration of craft that denigrates industrial manufacture is an act of hypocrisy. 

Daniel Miller 2012(Power of Making)
Are these two ( craft and industrial manufacture) in opposition as the comment above suggests?


  1. Perhaps this is true. I am convinced there is a great deal of impressive craft in industry. However, that is different than much craft that happens outside of industry. When a person authors, builds, analyzes, and receives frequent feedback on an object, the work develops in a different, more holistic and informed way.

  2. After having heard you speak about your work in which you harness the skills of highly trained people within industry, the two, studio-craft and manufacture, seem to be interdependent but underutilized. Your work addresses the need (and ongoing possibility) of artists and manufacturers continuing to embrace the concept of “playing to ones strengths” to make the best possible work. Mutual sharing of the skills existing in both realms seems ideal. (Unfortunately in America we have few factories to partner with…)

    With many of your works, Clare, you honor an invisible population- the impeccably skilled craft workers tucked within factories/manufacturing districts (Jingdizhen, etc). Pat, your flowermaker, is no less adept at her craft than other artists involved in making similar, nuanced forms. The difference is, the individual skill of Pat or the Chinese makers goes unrecognized. Why? Because they are part of a collective of workers housed within a factory? Harnessing this factory skill and highlighting its potential use to contemporary makers of all stripes- seems wise for all. (I would love to give Pat a residency and see what she might make??)

    Common ground is clearly shared between the two domains studio-craft and manufacturing. Both rely on hand- skills honed over time either through apprenticeship within a factory or study in an academic institution. Both rely on the making of a specialized and specific thing (flowers or functional forms). Both likely value their material skill and knowledge equally. But, some notable differences between studio crafts people and manufacturing workers exist, too, and this may be cause for the debate or disparity alluded to in the quote above.

    Although work such as Clare’s makes the barriers between the two domains of artist-craft/factory more permeable, might a very large and critical difference be the manufacturing workers freedom to make what he/she chooses? Can Pat arrive to work one day and decide NOT to make flowers, or choose to move onto a new body of work? I think not. The industrial model seems to rely strongly on the collective execution of a pre-conceived/designed object wherein the manufacturing worker completes the task assigned- rather than defines it.

    In reference to consumerism, both craft and industrial manufacturers want or need to sell work to make a living. Both use their hands and problem solving skills to do so. Both likely work somewhat repetitively and diligently to achieve their goals. The studio crafts-person model can be more individualized- but still needs to attain a high degree of productivity to be lucrative. I know functional potters who lament the hours of work it takes to make their living. They confess the romantic notion of being a potter is really not true in the least. It’s ridiculously hard work. If they were able to harness the industrial model and maintain the integrity of their vision, their appreciation and skilled use of manufacturing would probably blossom.