One of the interesting things that came up during the dinner party conversation with Pete Forde’s friends was the lack of craftsmanship and art in our everyday lives. We’re surrounded by generic mass-produced disposables.

But it doesn’t have to stop there. W-, J- and I often watch Discovery Channel’s How It’s Made series, and learning about the manufacture of even something as everyday as china gives me a greater appreciation for the things we use. I carry little things that have stories or tht make me smile – a fountain pen, a notebook, a walking stick. And I’m learning to create things myself, too – developing applications and presentations for work, drawing and writing for fun.

Other people know this secret, too. Jeff Muzzerall showed me his mechanical watch, telling me how he enjoys watching the interlocking gears through the clear back face. It told a story about his love of well-crafted objects. If you carry something exceptional, it reminds you of beauty.

What keeps you in touch with craftsmanship?

  • I can’t believe I’ve found someone else who will admit to watching ‘How It’s Made’! Something about that show is insanely addicting. The narrator is so soothing and they try so hard to show people as little as possible. It makes you feel like happy robots are making all these cool things for us.

    Of course, I also spent months watching it on the dvr while bottle-feeding a baby so I was delirious with lack of sleep at the same time.

  • Using my film camera keeps me touch with an age that isn’t digital! Although I scan the images for all to see.

    Other things that keep me in touch with craftsmanship, baking things from scratch (when I have time). Making brownies from scratch taste way better than buying the ready mix at the store!

    • Definitely agree on the baking from scratch bit. =)

      I’ve heard that developing your own film in a darkroom makes for an almost visceral appreciation of the image emerging from the chemical reactions…

  • gary

    i wear Arcrteryx clothing – gary

  • By knitting, sewing (I recently bought some handwoven tweed in Ireland, craft build on craft ;-) ) and generally making stuff myself. There is no nicer feeling, than having a cozy sweater all made by yourself. Even if they look wonky, which may first handful did. But I still have them after 20 years, they are great.
    By buying art that means something to me. I have a large painting made by a friend, which I had to pay down in monthly rates. But it is great, I love it, it gave her a monthly cash injection, when she needed it and it always reminds me of friendship. Art is more accessible than most people think. Just go and buy some local, unknown artist’s work you like. Maybe you can even buy in monthly rates.
    And I recently started with the Arduino (microcontroller) board. As a beginning to make my own personal robot. My hands definitely don’t like to lay still.

  • Hmm, I do a little vegie gardenning and eat the produce.
    I also make my own software :-) and I like to watch OpenSource projects because I can see how things are made, and even directly participate. There is craftpersonship to be seen and enjoyed in modern-day persuits too!

  • I think sometimes its easy to get caught up in complexity and forget that craftsmanship doesn’t have to always be complex or hugely time-consuming. Here’s a great example: I am making my own buddha’s hand infused vodka. Took me maybe an hour all told in purchasing the vodka and citron, cutting it up, and putting it in the bottle. The result is something I crafted myself. Now as the bottle sits in my kitchen slowly turning all delicious. Every time I see it I am inspired to think about other projects. Thus I think craftsmanship is an iterative process that works best in a feedback loop.

  • Just reflecting on this post, Sacha. I ended up returning to this in a post last year: