Bare Metal


"There is a strong sporting element in some workmanship. There are times when one can irretrievably spoil in a matter of seconds the work of a whole day. The element of risk is no figure of speech.

" In such a trade as the blacksmith's the critical moments are also dramatic, as anyone must agree who has watched a fire-weld being made. As the iron comes to the heat the fire roars, the fan hums and the smith stands silent. Suddenly like an irrupting comet the iron is swept white-hot out of the fire onto the anvil, with scale spattering from it in a blinding shower, and three decisive hammer blows have made the weld. Or not!

'The timing and control of those movements have decided whether the weld is sound. Many lives on many occasions must have depended on their timing in forging the ironwork for sailing ships. A 'cold shut' or a weld with dirt in it could remain undetected for years and then bring down a mast, or, if in an anchor, put a ship ashore."

David Pye, The Nature and Art of Workmanship

 

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Bare Metal


"There is a strong sporting element in some workmanship. There are times when one can irretrievably spoil in a matter of seconds the work of a whole day. The element of risk is no figure of speech.

" In such a trade as the blacksmith's the critical moments are also dramatic, as anyone must agree who has watched a fire-weld being made. As the iron comes to the heat the fire roars, the fan hums and the smith stands silent. Suddenly like an irrupting comet the iron is swept white-hot out of the fire onto the anvil, with scale spattering from it in a blinding shower, and three decisive hammer blows have made the weld. Or not!

'The timing and control of those movements have decided whether the weld is sound. Many lives on many occasions must have depended on their timing in forging the ironwork for sailing ships. A 'cold shut' or a weld with dirt in it could remain undetected for years and then bring down a mast, or, if in an anchor, put a ship ashore."

David Pye, The Nature and Art of Workmanship

 

I'd like to be a craftsman.

There's something substantial about the word "craft." It sounds solid, more solid than "career' or "profession."

Why is that? My coffee shop has an old WPA mural reproduction over the counter, and sometimes I like to imagine that I'm the metalworker in that mural. But the closest I get to "bare metal" is specifying a server in the cloud.

I'd like to try to act all hard. But truth is, I'm soft. Soft as a cloud.

Your work may not be a "craft" right now. But, with enough time, it may grow to become one. 

It sure looks like craftsmanship is retreating these days. It seems to be available mostly as nostalgia, for those who have the money to pay for it.

I hear you. But I think there's something else going on. Crafts are still alive and growing, in some of the most surprising and unexpected places.  And it gets better than that. It turns out that there's a pretty simple set of conditions needed to sprout and cultivate a craft. Simple, but not easy.

This book is mostly about one craft that has already sprouted. Like a weed. 

 

 

Craftiness


"It would be well if all of us were good handicraftsmen in some kind, and the dishonor of manual labor done away with altogether."

John Ruskin, On the Nature of Gothic

Craftiness


"It would be well if all of us were good handicraftsmen in some kind, and the dishonor of manual labor done away with altogether."

John Ruskin, On the Nature of Gothic

If I did manual labor, I sure wouldn't be able to afford my place in Brooklyn. Don't craftsmen work with their hands? 

Look, Ironwork is tough manual labor. But working thatch is an art, and thatch ain't heavy. Antonio Stradivari wasn't exactly buff, but he was a craftsman of a type called a "luthier." 

It ain't the meat, it's the motion

Describe the apprenticeship system that trained Strad, and Don Michelson! Produce the definition of "craftsman" indirectly, through their stories. 

Then briefly tell the story of Leo Fender, creator of the Stratocaster. First "quiz": was Leo a craftsman?

Also: Are these craftsmen? Explain your answer. If they aren't craftsmen, what would change to make them so?

Connie learned to cook from her Italian mother. Her mother never really fully approved of her cooking. But her husband and kids did. Should she be considered a master of the craft of cooking?

Julisse was talking up a storm by the time she started school. Had she become a craftsman of spoken English?

Alfredo learned HVAC at a VoTec school. He makes great money now installing air conditioners in Phoenix. He's the number one installer at the company. There's no formal apprenticeship or journeyman status for HVAC in Arizona. Should he be considered a Master of HVAC?

Explain: quizzes through the book.

Explain: word wiggle. Craftsman, workman, tech, etc. Tell the story of the term "President," as selected by the U.S. Congress.