Hi Michael, Good to meet you in SF. I am interested more in the
connotative meaning of the phrase “Hand made”, that is, what it means
in the market place, or among peers, rather than the strict FTC
denotative definition. There are many variations on the phrase such
as hand wrought, hand assembled (assembled by hand), hand forged,
hand fabricated and hand made.
To my eye, “hand wrought” implies something subtly different than
hand made: a more intimate relationship with the material in which
the raw stock–an ingot or bar-- is altered intuitively w/ hammer,
anvil, heat and file. Same with “hand forged”.
“Hand fabricated” could mean the same thing, but implies to me a
process that perhaps doesn’t alter the original material as much,
material which itself begins in a more processed and refined state–
sheet or wire. The process is somewhat removed, intimacy wise. When
a piece is described by a smith, jeweler or metal artist on a slide
or slide sheet, the terms “fabricated” and “forged” often both appear
as descriptors of process, implying that they are distinct enough
processes to be listed separately.
I usually agree with Jim, and if I were pressed to the wall and had
to come up with a very strict, non inflective, denotative definition
I would probably be forced to concur on the casting issue. But,
again, that’s not what I’m interested in. As I wrote before, I
plainly see instances where casting is a mere step in the process of
handmade manufacture. Especially when the casting is then worked
further in some way-- fabricated on, forged, etc. Really, all the
sheet and wire that we fabricate our handmade objects from begin as
castings in the sense that an ingot is really a cast object. (With
the exception of large silver sheet and 20 ga. 14k earwire, I
fabricate everything from "cast’ ingots rolled and drawn.)
I can be very comfortable with calling a cast ring a handmade
object, as long as the casting was cleaned up, set and somehow worked
by hand. In the case of a production line of, say, 100 items which
are cast, machine tumbled and then set by hand, I wouldn’t be as
comfortable calling these hand made-- and would probably bristle at a
counter person calling them such. I believe that the term hand made
also implies an “edge” to a piece that a machine generated item just
doesn’t have. Just look at two Celtic Knot rings, one hand carved by
a master wax carver, cast and finished by a quality smith and the
same ring carved via CAD/CAM,cast and then polished (by hand on a
machine). The hand carved ring even if it is perfect in every way
will usually have a quality, some inherent assymetry or the
slightest of imperfections that lends some distinctive edge or soul
that the CAD/CAM ring will never have. Even in a production line of
100 items, whether they be fabricated or cast and hand finished,
there is a degree of variability in form, line quality, edge, etc.
The degree to which the hand is involved directly affects this
Perhaps this is it then… The degree to which the hand is involved
with the piece. Was the casting (model) carved or built by hand?
How much is the casting worked after it is cast?
Sorry for the ramble, not enough coffee.