Anyway, one bit early in the Introduction I thought might be of interest to The Reader. The question put is "What is craftmanship?" The author reckons there are three things necessary:
- The craftsman is able to marry beauty and utility. He is able to combine good taste and usefulness.
- The true craftsman does not depend on complex machinery and equipment to complete his work.
- The true craftsman is not only able to work in an ancient tradition, but he is able to build on the foundation of history. The past provides a solid basis for his work.
I'm not sure I agree with these criterior, despite it being music to the ears of the Galootish Soul. Not infrequently I find myself looking at a completed piece and thinking how sad that such obvious skill and, yes, craftsmanship should result in something so hideous. I regret to say the cover chest on April's PWW resulted in just that reaction. And yet a quick flick through the article suggests there's plenty of craftsmanship gone into its making, and it looks a fairly useful piece of furniture to boot.
Point two, well I can see what he's getting at there and agree. That's why I shall never aspire to be a "true craftsman" - I like my gadgets and such. At least at the moment. But I thought the router was the be-all and end-all of woodworking once upon a time, and that changed, so who knows? Heck, do I not now own an Axe?! Anything's possible...
Building on the foundation of history? Well building on it is good. Being shackled by it, less so, IMO. I don't know which camp that leaves me as described in Chris S's editorial in April's PWW (again): "the people who insist that we must stand on the shoulders of the old masters, and those that are happy to kick the old masters in the shins to find an easier, faster and more accurate way to build furniture"? I'd hope a little bit of both. All through the book (so far) "no longer to be found", "last of the ..." and so forth keeps cropping up again and again. Stagnate and you risk extinction. Striving to do better, faster, easier is what's got the human race where it is now - it's what we do. Yeah okay, so it's also got us in the mess we're in now, but you can't have everything...
On the whole I find myself reminded of the comment Elizabeth Bennet makes in Pride & Prejudice when Darcy and the Bingley sisters (that well-known Motown group...) have reeled off all they'd expect to see in "an accomplished young lady".
"I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder at your knowing any."
Maybe I just have very low expectations? Anyway, got me thinking which is No Bad Thing - and has the bonus of rarity value too...