Tuesday, August 21, 2012

'Hand Made'???

 This is a comment provoked by the blog post and following comments made at:

It should look handmade…

(I would credit the author by name, but there is little to identify, and I got referred there via a Facebook cross link)

It should look handmade” may be in fact a description used instead of the better “It should not be mass produced by machine”.

I am a professional artisan blacksmith. If you look *really* closely at pre-Industrial age forged work, you see that even in large grills with regular, repeated elements, are in fact all individually hand forged over the anvil, one by one. This creates slight differences to each. Not what happens if forms and jigs are used for the shaping. The net effect is subtle, but even the casual viewer notices something that tells them ‘hand made’.
A trained and careful hand *can* in fact produce effects indistinguishable from machine work. (I’d say this most often seen in highly skilled hand sewing!) This should be a goal to be sought as one develops as an artisan.

Roughly 1200 AD - Hand forged wolf head detail, about 2 inches long (Victoria & Albert, London)
In my own *modern* work, I stress designs that feature the greatest possibilities of shape and form possible by the aggressive use of hand forging methods. This does create objects very obviously ‘modern’ in their overall look.

Note that I am not talking about *mistakes* here, but an approach to the work itself. I most certainly have undertaken detailed reproductions and replicas of historic objects in the past. Here the fine details of the objects most often also must be created using not only hand work methods, but sometimes replica tools and historic processes. (Carving with a dremel bur will *never* look like carving with a fine chisel - and certainly is not a duplication of a historic process.)

This was a return comment by the mind behind opusanglicanum:

Since I do silversmithing ... as well as sewing, I can confirm that perfection is far far easier with sewing! It that very subtle "should" that gets to me. Looking handmade is a wonderful thing, but the should is used as justification far more often than its ever used as a compliment. The agressive handmadeness of some modern pieces is a separate category which is in itself a reaction against the conformity of our society, and in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing it can be fantastic - but to deconstruct any art form you have to know how to do it "properly" (for want of a better word) first. To deconstruct something without knowing how to construct it just vandalism. To use deconstruction as an excuse for not bothering to learn to construct is mental and physical laziness, and that's where the "should" becomes a vital distinction
(I have highlighted a critical point there)

I would recommend my own readers not only check out the opusanglicanum blog, but also take the time to run down the line of comments to this specific entry.

I have been stuck with how thoughtful the responses have been.
This most especially since the other 'check this out' suggestion from that morning turned out to be whining drivel. I had hopes that a discussion of 'what fails at re-enactments' might yield some meat, but it quickly descended to mere fat and fluff.

1 comment:

stag said...

Hammer marks are not visible on the armours in Malta, Leeds, Vienna or the ROM in Toronto. Such hammer marks on re-enactor armour are improper and are the sign of sloppy workmanship. Furthermore, what looks wrong to most any critical eye is the use of mechanical "jinnies" to roll edges and insert flutes in the metal. So much armour is coming in from India which is clearly mass produced in a factory. How can you tell? MY edge rolls are as crisp and clean as any mechanical roller...as this link demonstrates...yet they were done over the edge of an anvil.


Even so, this armour is hammer dent free the way it is supposed to be. Does anybody think this armour is made by machine?
So how CAN you tell?

The answer is to look at the back of the armour. You can see the evidence of the big hammers they used to flatten the armour onto a shiney surface plate.

(stag was stung by the comment from some yob that his armour was machine made, and is therefore a little sensitive on the subject. Foul child!)


February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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