Craft Today, a sequel to "Craeft" - Book Review.
OK, let's turn the clock to our post-industrial society and ask questions. What is of value and what sort of activities offer fulfillment?
Besides making money, which psychologists tell us engenders happiness up to the point where we have enough, making things, whether objects, books, music, or gardens, offers human satisfaction and fulfillment. As does appreciating those things made by others. If making things is satisfying, becoming a master of a craft is very satisfying. And those rewards can be shared with those who use the product as well. In Japan, the tradition of honoring master craftsmen by designating them as National Treasures points up the contribution that they have made to cultural development.
The OED defines craft by a number of synonyms: knowledge, power, skill, dexterity, and even wisdom and resourcefulness.
Separating the product from the process, defining craftsmanship as a state of being engaged, makes sense on a personal level. What is truly engaging and what can be elevated in our culture is the engagement with the real world of dirt, rock, metal, stick, fiber, water, and fire.
Here are a couple of my favorite Nakaya fountain pens that illustrate the height of contemporary craft. They are hand made of hard rubber and painstakingly finished with urushi lacquer derived from the sap of trees. They are made by retired Platinum Pen Company workers who want to continue doing what they know how to do. Not only do I enjoy seeing and feeling their pens, but I have the opportunity to add to them using a nib craft that I have practiced for many years.