Thursday, 22 February 2007

The Work of Craft

The Work of Craft An inquiry into the nature of crafts and craftsmanship, by Carla Needleman, is an extended meditation on the relationship between Craft and craftsmen. She herself is a potter, and although she doesn't directly focus on textiles as such she shows that the basic material every craftsmen works with is him or her self. Whatever is between one's hands, the clay, the wood, the wool, the fabric, responds to the quality of one's inner state. The product of one's work is not just an object but a way of being.

In reviewing this book, Frederick Franck, author of The Zen of Seeing, said that it is a book "...for anyone whose hands itch to make something - pot, piece of weaving, wooden clog, painting or book - with seriousness, so that it is undivorced from the maker's inner life."

Here are some random quotes taken from Needleman's book:

"The realisation that when I work at my craft in a way that allows each moment to fall of its own weight, without hurrying it or retaining it, such a way of working will produce in me a state of greater sensitivity, can lead me to use this method as an inner technique having as its goal the state itself, solely for the pleasure of it. (P.9)"

"What does it mean that I undertake to study myself? Perhaps it can mean that I extend myself into the Craft, willing to sacrifice any of my own opinions that experience proves false. I undertake to begin a conversation with the craft, to listen to it, to be taught by the effort of trying to understand it. (Pages 12/13)"

Carla Needleman. The Work of Craft. An inquiry into the nature of crafts and craftsmanship. Alfred Knopf. NY. 1979. isbn 0 394 49718 X

Illustration shows 'Railroad Crossing', an 1930s American block pattern attributed to Nancy Cabot.

No comments: