Arkansas Living Treasures

Following a link from Fine Woodworking I came across an inspiring collection of videos featuring a group of traditional craftspeople who live in the US state of Arkansas.

The state has sponsored the production of a movie series featuring each craftsman talking about their work and practising in their studios.

Something that stands out is the advanced age of some of the artists who are still practising. Chair maker Dallas Bump is 94 and fiddle maker Violet Hensley was still making well into her 90’s.

Other artists that particularly interested me were

The award of “Living Treasure” echos the Japanese tradition of designating important figures in the crafts and arts as Living National Treasures. Several other countries have also adopted the nomination including Australia, although the Aus list is short on crafts people, favouring sports people, politicians, actors, writers and business magnates. Craft Australia has created its own Living Treasures list, adding one person each year since 2005.

A recent reminder of the strong Australian links with Japanese ceramics occurred with the visit of Euan Craig to give a very successful workshop at the National Arts Centre in Sydney. In the 90’s Euan was an apprentice of the Japanese National Living Treasure Tatsuzo Shimaoka.

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Making a flamenco guitar

I have linked to this video before but its so good its worth another run.

The Art of Making, Alma Flamenca from Deep Green Sea on Vimeo.

New Maker Video – We should build mandolins

Here is another beautiful video celebrating craftsmanship.

It features Tom Ellis who started building mandolins from his rural workshop in late 1970’s. Tom has recently relaunched his instrument line in collaboration with Pava one his co-workers.

The video was produced by the Fretboard Journal a very high quality magazine that features stories and photo’s about guitars, players and makers.

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Solvay Conference 1911

Mark Bernstein: Going To Conferences

Bernstein illustrates his argument by describing the photo below, which brought to my attention that so many these famous scientists were contemporaries.

There’s a picture in the lobby of the Hotel Metropole in Brussels of the attendees at the first Solvay conference in 1911. Madame Curie is sitting next to Henri Poincaré; they’re both examining a paper and it’s more interesting than the group photo. Behind them, a shockingly young Al Einstein is paying more attention to the photographer. Nernst is there, and Rutherford, Lorentz, Planck, de Broglie, Brillouin, Langevin…

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Makers at work

Huge collection of videos of makers talking about their work.

Those Who Make

Here’s one I particularly enjoyed

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Craftsmanship – one mans inspiration

Moving essay from David Sparks meditating about the influence of his father on his own pursuit of craftsmanship. I am sure that many modern craftsman were inspired to take up the tools for similar reasons, I certainly was growing up in a household where Dad always had a project on the go.

Craftsmanship and My Father — MacSparky

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Swedish spoon maker 1923

Great video link from The Village Carpenter

The Village Carpenter: Swedish Spoon Maker Video (1923)

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Made by Hand in Brooklyn

Made by Hand is a project creating beautiful videos that celebrate the resurgent maker scene in Brooklyn.

“…Made by Hand was created out of the belief that the things we collect, consume, use, and share are part of who we are as individuals. For example, the food that we eat says something about each of us, as do the tools we use and the chairs we rest on. Objects that surround the space we dwell in tell stories, and not just about us. Where did they come from? Who made them? How were they made? “

The video below features knife maker Joel Bukiewicz reflecting on how he got started and the challenging process of learning the skills. The black and white style complements the material.

“…You go into the shop and you cut yourself burn yourself, f..k something up…and you never make that mistake again..”.

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John Dermer

In November we travelled down to Kirby’s Flat for John Dermer’s annual major exhibition.

Planning to be there early we stayed overnight in Beechworth and arrived at Johns pottery at 10 past nine, assuming we would be the first car in the car park. What a surprise to find about a dozen cars already parked up, even more of a shock was waiting for us when we entered the gallery to find half of the exhibits already proudly bearing their red stickers indicating they were sold.

There were still many beautiful pieces left and we purchased an exquisite salt glazed bowl.


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The Anarchists Tool Chest

Just finished reading the Anarchists Tool Chest by Christopher Shwarz.

Its inspired me to build my own chest and stock with it quality tools made where possible by small firms and individuals who are keeping the tools needed for traditional woodworking alive. Chris has wicked sense of humour which, once I tuned into it, added a nice touch of levity to the material.

The book is about what Chris describes as the essential set of tools needed to practise traditional hand tool woodworking. Its also about building a chest to house them. What really makes the book though is Chris’s philosophy that permeates the text, this is what the use of ‘Anarchist’ in the title references.

“The mere act of owing real tools and having the power to use them is a radical and rare idea that can help change the world around us and – if we are persistent – preserve the craft”

The book is published by Lost Art Press

who describe themselves as

 a small publishing company in Fort Mitchell, Ky., that seeks to help the modern woodworker learn traditional hand-tool skills.

They have a collection of good stuff for those into the hand tool world. They don’t ship internationally so I bought mine as a Kindle book. I also bought the DVD, Chris put this together as he had many requests to describe the tools he has in his own chest in more detail, going into brands and why he choose them. Its available from Lost Art (here) is well worth getting as an accompaniment to the book.

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