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Artisan Crafts and all that jazz

PasserbyePasserbye The Woman Who Is Not Shortat The Moonlite All-Nite Diner; a glass box full of bad food and good people.Registered User regular
edited September 2009 in Artist's Corner
I did a cursory look-through and haven't found any thread like this. If there is one, please let me know.

The point of this thread is to talk about (and show pictures of!) what artisan crafts we do, what artisan crafts we like or have always wanted to learn about, and what a distinction between artisan crafts and fine arts is, can be, should be, or whether there should even be a distinction.

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So, artisan crafts, what do I mean by that? I mean hand-made items which aren't art. Yes, it's an ambiguous label. Basically I mean items which are (usually) functional and are made for the sake of quality, for the joy of the material (as opposed to the arts-and-crafts you did in kindergarten).

For example, I make chainmail jewelry and I crochet. Even though I have my BA in fine arts, specifically fiber work and small-scale metalworking, I don't consider my work to be fine art. This isn't to say that I consider fine art to be superior or inferior to artisan crafts, I just think that the intent is different in each case. Fine art focuses on conveying a message or concept, artisan crafts are solely to hone a craft, enjoy a material, etc.

Obviously there is a little blurring of the lines, but I hope I've made myself clear.

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As I said, I make chainmail and I crochet (I also do quite a few other metal and fiber things, but chainmail and crochet are what I do most frequently). I've done chainmail for 6 years now and crochet for about 2. Here are some examples of my work. I "mastered" chainmail (not my words, those of my peers) and started my own business doing it before I started studying small-scale metalworking in school. I started doing crochet for a self-determined quarter curriculum.

Chainmail
Spoiler:

Crochet (Unfortunately I don't have as many photos of these since I keep giving my stuff away, and my camera had been dead for a while.)
Spoiler:

I also really admire people who do wood working. If there are any of you here, please share! :D

Passerbye on

Posts

  • pittenspittens Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Holy canoli, that chainmail choker is awesome. I would wear it, perhaps in a different colour. I don't really do any crafts myself so I don't have any advice to offer, but this really makes me wish I did :D

    Don't all those little metal links get fiddly after a while?

  • AnalrapistAnalrapist Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Christ the patience you have.
    I once tried to turn a silver band into a ring and almost went mental trying to get it right.

    This stuff always blows my mind, nice work.

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  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Passerbye wrote: »
    So, artisan crafts, what do I mean by that? I mean hand-made items which aren't art.

    Not art, eh?

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  • CheerfulBearCheerfulBear Registered User
    edited September 2009
    Give it up, Forbe, you're never going to be a genuine artist by hitting crap with a hammer.

  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
  • PasserbyePasserbye The Woman Who Is Not Short at The Moonlite All-Nite Diner; a glass box full of bad food and good people.Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Forbe! wrote: »
    Passerbye wrote: »
    So, artisan crafts, what do I mean by that? I mean hand-made items which aren't art.

    Not art, eh?
    Passerbye wrote: »
    This isn't to say that I consider fine art to be superior or inferior to artisan crafts, I just think that the intent is different in each case. Fine art focuses on conveying a message or concept, artisan crafts are solely to hone a craft, enjoy a material, etc.

    When I make the distinction that artisan crafts are not art it is simply an objective observation, not a criticism of artisan crafts or people who make them (after all, I consider myself one of those people). In my opinion artisan crafts are just as important as fine art. If anything, the "fine art" world needs to be a little less snooty about the craft side of things and recognize that a well-made item can have as much impact as a beautiful painting, whether that item has "deeper concepts" or not.

    Edit: Incidentally, are you a blacksmith? Taranis, one of the forumers here, mentioned that he was interested in learning about blacksmithing. Are there any sites or groups you could recommend to him? :D An old friend of mine is a blacksmith but I've been out of contact with him for a few years now so the email address I have is (apparently) no good anymore.

  • TaranisTaranis Every time I hear this groove, It makes me wanna move.Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Forbe! wrote: »
    Passerbye wrote: »
    So, artisan crafts, what do I mean by that? I mean hand-made items which aren't art.

    Not art, eh?

    So are you a blacksmith? I've been wanting to to get into blacksmithing for years.

    Do you have any tips/advice?

    / steam profile / mwo handle: calverin /
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  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    To be more precise, I am a metalsmith. I do more work in non-ferrous metal on smaller scales, however, I started working in steel prior to declaring my major specialization in metalsmithing.

    I currently go to Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and have taken quite a few Blacksmithing classes, as well as apprenticed for a summer with a master blacksmith. I have also taught a blacksmithing course for youths for the past three years. My experience with blacksmithing is primarily focused on creating art objects from iron, not necessarily functional objects, though I am fairly well acquainted with traditional techniques/joinery.

    As far as blacksmithing/metalsmithing associations:
    http://www.abana.org/ - Artist Blacksmith's Association of North America is a good start for general blacksmithing. Assuming you are in the US, there are many links to various local blacksmithing clubs (you'd be surprised, there is probably a local one near you). They release a newsletter/magazine called 'The Anvils Ring', which you can usually find back-copys of easily. These are usually focused on techniques and other resources pertinent to creating art, rather than on the art itself, though they usually focus on a few artists per issue.
    http://www.snagmetalsmith.org/ - Society of North American Goldsmiths is another good resource. This tends to focus more on contemporary jewelry, however, there have been blacksmithing articles in it in the past. They hold an annual conference in a different city every year. This is more 'fine art' oriented.

    Reference books:
    I started reading with 'The Complete Modern Blacksmith' which is a great technical guide to tool use, creation, maintenance, and general blacksmithing knowledge.
    A project book with basic joins, mechanisms and decorative elements is 'A Blacksmithing Primer'. It is pretty much just technical drawings of basic projects you can create.

    The best way to learn is through doing. A basic blacksmithing shop will cost you a good amount of money to set up, even if you buy it all second hand. Some blacksmith clubs have members that will offer basic classes on forging and tool making, skills you will NEED to know. This will cover forging, heat treating, stock removal, and probably some basic rivet setting (tongs). Projects you will create will sometimes require special tools (tongs, hammers, jigs).

    If you are really serious about getting into blacksmithing as a trade, and as an art, and not just to make yourself a sword because you think it would be cool, there are a few universities that offer blacksmithing (SIUC Is the only that offers MFA Degrees), and a few craft schools you can check out:
    http://www.artanddesign.siuc.edu/programs/metalsmithing.html
    http://www.penland.org/
    http://www.haystack-mtn.org/
    http://www.tntech.edu/craftcenter/home/
    http://www.metalmuseum.org/

    The Ornamental Metal Museum in memphis is a great place to visit. They have a few blacksmiths/metalsmiths working there year round under residencies. They also host an event called 'Repair Days' where blacksmiths/metalsmiths from around the country come to repair items people bring in, all proceeds of which go to the museum. There are a lot of connections to be made here/things to watch. As it turns out, it is happening in two weeks, so head on out if you are interested (I'll be there).

    So...What else do you need to know?

    Edit:

    Also, the Student Organization for my department, Southern Illinois Metalsmith Society, holds an annual conference (which was this past weekend). We usually invite two artists (one metalsmith, one blacksmith) to do demos and hold lectures over the weekend. It is a great time, good for networking, and costs like...$15 to register for the weekend. We also hold an art auction to raise funding for the department.

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  • TaranisTaranis Every time I hear this groove, It makes me wanna move.Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Wow thanks for all the information. I was interested in blacksmithing as a hobby, so I will definitely look for a local club and possibly take some courses if they're offered at my local college.

    Do clubs have all the necessary equipment available for members to use? I don't really have a place or money to purchase equipment of my own.

    How expensive are raw materials?

    / steam profile / mwo handle: calverin /
    nerosig_zps80ae1f48.png
  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Clubs will have members who probably have their own private shops that might allow you to work there.

    Raw materials can vary, but are fairly cheap. It all depends what you are buying.

    You can buy milled stock from a local steel supply place for a markup, or you can go to a junkyard and scavenge for used material. Car parts, old construction equipment, drops and end pieces from fabrication shops.

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