This past weekend I went for my first walk - YIPPEE
Other than that not much else is happening.
Getting Back into The Swing
I have been "home", due to the Pandemic for over 142 days and during this time I have been nesting - reading lots of book, watching movies, doing the day job, and working on my Temari and NO metal work; I have have not been inspired to be in the studio.
This past weekend I went for my first walk - YIPPEE
Other than that not much else is happening.
I Had to Gogh
Several months ago I read an article about a new exhibition about Vincent van Gogh and that it was to be at the Museum of Fine Arts - Houston AND this was to be the ONLY place to see this exhibit because it is/was organized by the MFAH in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, and the Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo. The exhibit spotlights everything from landscapes to portraits and spans his life as an artist, from early sketches to final paintings.
So being a fan I had to go. My friend Denese, a fellow weaver, also is a fan so we decided to make a weekend of it and THIS weekend (Memorial Day) was it.
We drove up to Houston on Saturday afternoon and settled into a nice AirBnB near the museum. We found a great Indian restaurant for dinner and went for the 5 course tasting menu - I wanted to lick the plates it was so good; the conversation was great too. Sunday we went over to the museum and even though it was not open yet, the lines were long - to purchase tickets or those who had tickets. We bought our tickets on line and paid just a bit more for premium entry which allowed us a higher priority to be admitted and it was worth it as there was were only 2 people a head of us in the premium line. When the museum opened we were allowed to go right in and the galleries were empty!
We were there 3 hours looking and reading and by the time we left it was very crowded.
Overall it was well worth the trip. The works were displayed along with cases of his sketch books; similar art supplies, enlarged letters to his brother, Theo, and commentaries of what was happening in his life and where he was living.
The pictures below are some of my favorites; there were many more.
23 Months in the Making
When we moved into the new house, the area for my studio was unfinished and we just stacked the boxes around the floor. In the small area where the back door and the windows are, I set up my office. In the open closet we put some wire shelves, we found in the storage room, up and I cut some wire out so I could make a hammer rack. We also setup the soldering station, the polishing and grinding station, my workbench and the old kitchen table so I had a place to work.
But I didn't. I found it was just too difficult to find things since stuff was in boxes.
And to build out the studio was going to take cash, and we were money tight as a result of the move; so I waited.
A year went buy and money was saved and I could finally consider the construction on the studio. Now we had to find someone to do it. We decided to look at some new homes under construction in the area, as a way to find a builder who's work we liked; and we did. After a few discussions and a walk through the mess of a studio, we finally took measurements, got a quote, paid our money and scheduled a start date of just after New Year's.
With a date set, we now had to take all the boxes and move them from the studio area and into the office area, move the stakes and stake stand, put the hammers away, take down the polishing and grinding station and move the soldering station away from where the cabinets would be installed. The shop elf then put risers on the outlets, that would be covered by the cabinets and installed new outlets above where the cabinet back splash would end.
Construction took 2 months because Roger, our guy, was only working on it on weekends, while he worked on the spec house he was building during the week. His son Alex, was his shop elf and the two of them made a great team.
As you can see from the picture series below, the cabinets were installed, leveled, painted, drawers and doors hung, counter tops installed, and handles put on. Roger also demo'd the extra walls from the closet to open it up and put a second shelf in so I have extra storage for hammer and stake related items. He also assisted in the installation of the polisher and grinder, on the counter top.
All was finished last weekend, and I can now start unpacking and organizing everything. I am going to raid The Container Store for large and small tubs that I can put things into - that starts next week.
I have finally settled on a new name and have begun the rebranding of this website.
Look at the two images above - a stained glass panel from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a portrait painting from the Louvre; both are in museums, both are considered art and both require skill to create; which was made by a craftsman and which was made by an artist? More importantly which is art and which is craft?
In the good ol’ USA, there is some confusion over what is Art vs. what is Craft. To most Americans, and maybe elsewhere in the world, “craft” implies hobbies that people pursue in their home or with friends, and even sold at “craft fairs” or online. What are these crafts? They are items with essential oils, making jewelry (at the kitchen table), knitting/crocheting scarves, sewing small baby items, small wood toys, and more.
But really, what is CRAFT.
The definition of CRAFT is an item made by a CRAFTSMAN. In a historical sense, particularly the Middle Ages and earlier, the term is usually applied to people occupied in small-scale production of goods, or their maintenance. On the very functional side we had carpenters, black/copper/tin smiths, carpenters, weavers and more. On the high end there were goldsmith (jewelry), silversmiths (functional tableware and more), glass blowers, tailors, wood workers and furniture makers. To become a master in your craft one had to progress through an apprenticeship program from apprentice to journeyman and finally master. This is where the term masterpiece come from, it was the piece you made which was submitted your guild or trade group would evaluate and deem that you had completed your training.
So then, what is Art?
Art has traditionally been described as – (read that as non-functional)
Noun: the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. Along with the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.
In other words, something that evoke emotion and comes from emotion. Yet, most discussions do not discuss training and honing of the “craft”
Let’s take Opera and Painters as examples:
In Opera a singer is trained: learning not only to sing but to act, learn Italian, German, French and the other languages that Opera is sung in, etc. As they gain skill they can progress through the chorus until they are the Prima Donna; the lead singer.
For a painter in the medieval or renaissance period, they too went through an apprenticeship that taught them to draw, mix paints, build canvases, transfer the sketch to canvas. Eventually the apprentice is making sketches to assist with a large commission, even painting in the background and eventually getting commissions of their own; which is why many of those pieces of art are called masterpieces
Is it art or is it craft?
In this day and age the line between art and craft has greatly blurred. Many times, the artist is told to hone their craft (Note: The term hone comes out of bladesmithing which is traditionally a craft) thus they are a craftsman but what they produce is art. If you go into many art museums these days you will see works made by a master craftsman. Thus, a craftsman can also produce art!
This article from the Tate Museum in the UK and this article from the New York Times address these thoughts of how the lines between the two are blurring and this post.
Are you an artist, a craftsman or a crafter?
This has been a long time coming; I am re-branding The Adventurous Silversmith to ???? (as yet to be determined).
If you follow this website and/or me, then you know that I do more than just metal. I do Temari, Yubinuki, Sewing and Quilting, Weaving, and more. Thus calling myself the Adventurous Silversmith just doesn't cover it all and personally I think posting information about those things really does not tie into the name; so it is time for a change.
I am looking at changing the domain name, logo, and website theme BUT WAIT, The Adventurous Silversmith will still exist as part of the "new" website and the current URL will point to it as well.
The big question is what to call it? I am off to ponder. If you have a suggestion, put it in the comments
it has taken over 4 months..Over the weekend I unpacked 3 boxes of stake heads (on the left of the bench). i also laid down butcher block paper to stop stuff from falling through the holes and into the drawers. As well as organizing the items in the drawers and on the lower shelf.
Next I will assess the unpacked boxes and figure out what is needed in terms of cabinets, counter top and shelves plus the sink which was plumbed during the reno of the house.
Too Hot, Too Tired
Not much happening in the studio right now.
It is too hot - we have been near, at or above 100F for over a week now and it is to continue for another week. I might be able to do some chasing & repousse but....
I am too tired - the past few weeks at the day job have been very long and very stressful which means I am a bit metal burned out to think about working in the studio. I spent last Sunday watching some movies and I did it again yesterday and I am going to do it again today.
Hopefully next weekend my mental batteries will be recharged and I will do some metal work.
Today I am off to not only have dinner with friends but to get a photography "lesson" from William James Warren an amazing professional photographer. William, in my opinion has been a witness to many historical events and his pictures are well worth a good long look.
How did I meet William? I have been fortunate to have met him and become a friend through another recent friend (recent being 2 years) Ms. Lisa T, the awesome DBA who made me not hate working in Oracle. Note: I still don't love Oracle but we have come to an understanding; a mutual appreciation that we can both live with. After having dinner together several times over the past year, we connected via Facebook and started to trade puns and quips.
Recently having dinner and run away conversation which went late into the night, I asked about my photography as it relates to my metal work. William commented how he "liked" my in-process picture and how they had a naivety to them. Well of course they do; they are taken on the fly while I am working and to be accurate, they are taken on my desk, on the fly with no composition; no fancy lighting or other setup. It is just there on my wood Ikea desk with the computer keyboard or mouse in the background or on my workbench with all the tools and other detritus of the craft. The real issue is the "good" photographs I attempt to take of the finished pieces. These, I know I need help with so the proposal was made by me that we have dinner and I buy and in trade I get some pointers on how to take better pictures. Today is that day.
I have in preparation put into the car my camera, mini tripod,lights, and tent in addition to some of my cuffs and mineral specimens. I depart at 2:00 pm.
Here are two pictures - one of my messy bench and the other is from another metalsmith/jeweler (taken from his FB post without his permission). I think you can see I have a long way to go to be "messy".
I took another road trip to Texas and on the way back, the shop elf and I stopped at Potter USA. I got a new 12" shear and then spent time talking to Kevin about a jig I want for me and to sell. After that Kevin, Danielle, the shop elf and I just talked about stuff for three hours. During this time the shop elf discovered that his flashlight addiction has a name flashaholics - and that Kevin has it too. Danielle and I just rolled our eyes and did a bit of giggling at the two of them going on about water cooled flashlights.
Here are some pictures of the visit.