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The End of The Hand Carver


#1

on the 29 of November I did a talk at Kendall College in Grand
Rapids MI, and discussed the career of the jewelry industry, as well
as what I believe is required to succeed in this industry. they are
teaching all the students cad design for jewelry, as well as
metalsmithing. I personally think that cad should be taught the last
semester of your senior year of college, because you need the
fundamentals first before you try having the computer building it
for you. the reason for my accelerated interest now in cad is seeing
all of these students learning it was a bit scary. sure they are
beginners and sure they have no idea how to make jewelry but give
them two years doing the cad every day and they will figure out how
tall things need to be and were the heads and supports need to be.
the point is, here is the crystal ball when these kids get it! the
entire industry will be forced to change with them and those that
don’t will be left behind working at a fast food restaurant. I came
up with this theory a week ago and yesterday a friend from Toronto
called me asking me about THE CAD. he said after 30 years carving
models he is having trouble getting work. he just recently discovered
the reason. Someone has move into town with the cad and the printer
and is doing waxes faster, cheaper, and better than him. this is the
first case that I have heard of this happening. I give it 5 years and
all the hand carvers are in big trouble (by the way I am a hand
carver also). five years is just about the time when these students
will have two years under their belts. I made a statement not to
long ago on Orchid, that said “when people consider a computer
generated Picasso as good as an original I will start learning the
cad” fortune and unfortunate I believe this day has come. I have
taken a informal survey over the last six months with my clients, and
it pretty much goes like this, people over 30 appreciate the idea of
a hand drawing and a hand made wax that is close to perfect. people
under 30 need to see the drawing spinning around the screen to
visualize it, and EXPECT the model to be perfect. the under 30 is
your next major jewelry buyers! so the moral of the story change with
the times or prepare for your job at burger king.

Matthew
www.mhgjewelry.com


#2

Matthew,

I am so saddened by your post. Unfortunately, you are right about
the under 30 crowd wanting to see it spinning on their computer
screen (can I get it on my cell phone too!)

I truly hate the whole concept of the cad/cam. destroyer of artists,
holding the flag of progress marching along to our doom. Computers,
the wave of the future, the destruction of the past.

I hate those commercials, “don’t know what to do with your life, go
to art school and become and graphic designer.” there is one fatal
flaw in this. You still must be artistic on some level to be any good
at this. I see many people who think that because they have computer
program talents that is all that they need. But without good design
elements and a good working knowledge of materials and wear, a
computer is only as good as the weakest link.

My husband is in the pre-press field. Starting with cut and paste
and went back to school for computer pre-press to compete with the
changing times. It is that background that sets him apart from the
simple “computer-learned generation” and when the computers aren’t
doing what they need to be done, or when a correction needs to be
done on the film the was just ejected by the computer, no one else
has the experience to correct these problems, but because of
background, my husband is indispensable at his work.

Though I think on some levels, you are correct, but if it continues
to move in this direction, where the model and the cast and the
setting are all computer generated. If computers ever break down,
will the art of our work be lost like the secrets of the ancients?
More than likely, we are indispensable in our business, because
bigger, faster, and more precise isn’t always better. Computers are
not flexible like people. for example, machines have not taken over
the engraving business…there are still hand engravers.

To perpetually and singularly work on the computer, I do believe it
takes out some of the creativity and spontaneity that can only be
perpetuated by our minds to our hands. And this is our blessing not
our curse. You are an artist and no computer can replace the
you-ness of your work. Eventually we will come full circle where
people will search out artists again, because of cookie cutter
computer models will drive them to us. Many people still appreciate
the hand-made piece for what it is, flaws and all. And there you have
it, my optimistic views!

-julia potts


#3

Matthew’s post about the direction cad design for jewelry is taking,
and how a lot of people will have to change with it to be able to
compete got me to thinking.

One of my areas of interest is the faceting of colored In
the faceting world, GemCad has taken over for quickly designing a
new cut design pattern. The days of faceters just trying out one of
their design ideas on a piece of rough gemstone material are almost
gone. Quite often the faceter ended up with a design that was the
result of trying to make something out of the mistakes made earlier.
Sometimes the design turned out to be very good, but often the
opposite was the case. Now, a faceter can use GemCad or some other
softwear to design a cut and vary it for the various Refractive
Indexes of the mineral species being worked on. The angles for
quartz are not the proper angles for corundum…if you want to get
the best light return from the material.

But what really bothers me is that it is getting more difficult all
of the time to find younger people who will take up the art of
faceting. The younger generation in general is too busy to undertake
a hobby that requires great concentration over a period of time. I
am convinced that, if we could get the faceting machine
manufacturers to put bells, whistles, and lights on their faceting
machines, the younger crowd might become interested. Maybe the
machines could be called, the Fantasy Facetron or the Ultimate
Crusher UltraTec for instance.

There is some kidding here, but there is also a certain amount of
truth. I do not want to live to see the time when buyers of
gemstones do not have an appreciation of the work that some faceters
have put into creating the one of a kind gemstones that are
available.

Glenn Klein, G.G.
Lake Forest CA USA

Faceting History: Cutting Diamonds & Colored Stones book
http://www.glennklein.com


#4

Mathew,

I read your post with interest.

Like you, I also travel to colleges to give demos and presentations.
My most recent one was at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia
and it was on the flexshaft.

While there are many accessories with the flex-shaft which speed up
your work, it is the hand which is celebrated in the metals
department. They have an impressive array of equipment, a very fancy
CAD system combined with a model scanner which builds the models in
resin, casting equipment, etc. A student was watching my demo
stating, “ooh, I could clean this up much faster with a Radial
Bristle disc, or grind a curve better with a knife edge wheel.” True
you could, but in order to understand how to use flex-shaft
accessories, you must first know what your hands are capable of
doing. The student was filing and filing, sanding and sanding, all by
hand. For this I completely and whole heartedly agree, that learning
by hand is the right way.

Now, if you are commissioned to make one hundred of these, and you
need to clean them all by yourself, than absolutely, the flex-shaft
is the way to go.

Two years ago at the MJSA Expo in NYC, I came across a machine which
had Tiffany style prong rings lined up on a little conveyer belt. The
ring moved along assembly style and a hart bur carved out a seat in
the prong. The next was a stone which was plopped into the prong and
finally a little tool that pushed the prongs over one by one. When
finished it was dropped into a small vibratory polisher and in 15
minutes, voila! You had your finished ring. Understandingly, the
machine drew quite a crowd. One attendee said, "wow, with this
machine, I could fire two of my employees. This machine doesn’t need
unemployment insurance, workers comp, health insurance, paid
holidays, vacations, sick time and will work any shift I ask it to."
Needless to say, all the rings looked exactly the same. These rings
went from CAD to wax, casted, cleaned and placed in the machine.
Almost every step of the way was automated.

Automation is not new. What we do with automation, how we treat the
process, etc., is up to us, the artists. Can you imagine how
expensive automobiles would be if each one was hand made? Or how
about appliances, computers, or even music? Does an electric piano
sound better than a hand built Steinway. What if you strive to make
the electric piano sound and act like the Steinway, and you
absolutely loved music and played often. Which would you buy?

I think jewelry is like this, and education is the key. I like
computer aided design for some things. I’m not very mechanically
inclined and when I see a CAD demo of the inner workings of a car, it
educates me in discussions of why my mechanic is charging me a huge
bill. Otherwise, I would simply sputter and cry over the decision to
pay the charge or pay my mortgage that month.

I think for some things, CAD in jewelry is great. If you can’t carve
or draw, having the tools to render the work is very helpful. But CAD
is a tool, just like the flex shaft, or just like your file.
Innovation is what humans do. If we spend the time making something
by hand, then it is up to us to make sure that we bring everything we
can to the hand made piece. - historical reference, passion,
enthusiasm, metaphor and craftsmanship.

What CAD won’t do for me is create the quality and weight of a
simple line. One of the best skills I learned in school was drawing.
I still don’t do it well, but I practice. The weight of a line, the
thickness, the imprint in the paper, the subtle changes in the weight
of my pencil and the mark it creates is not the same when I see a CAD
drawing. They look monochromatic to me. For this, I resort to a piece
of wire and a hammer, or wax and a file. This makes my line, the
connection between my hand and my heart, the weight of the hammer, or
my file. If, above all things automated, this simple precept of
making by hand is made clear to students, then they will have a life
making their heart’s work, choosing the appropriate tool, rather than
serving burgers.

Which by the way, a hand crafted burger is much tastier than one
that is made on an assembly line.

-k

Karen Christians
M E T A L W E R X
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
http://www.metalwerx.com/
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio


#5

Oh, I remember the “end of vinyl recordings” as the prognosticators
promised us. Funny how that went. Now the kids are all buying
turntables and expensive vinyl pressings of their favourite groups,
in spite of the advent of MP3 and iPod.

There will always be new technologies which will dazzle, but they
will never fully replace that which has proven itself to be
effective and economical.

Cad will save the mass-producers time by creating “perfect” models
which can be repeated through other means. The copies won’t be
milled, they will be rubber or metal molded.

Some of the prognosticators have forecast the end of the big-box and
chain jewellery stores, and mass-produced jewellery.as a whole. The
industry is going cottage…by that, I mean boutique, studio, or
private office.

Does Cad/cam really have that big a future? Probably. Does the
fully-trained studio goldsmith have a future? Absolutely.

Technology will never fully replace the person who can fashion an
idea into a three-dimensional object within a few short hours. I
wouldn’t swap my wax carver for a handful of magic beans, as I have
seen how many hours some of the programming takes, and how the
finicky mills require babysitting and de-bugging.

Not only that, my wax carver knows how to do lots of other stuff,
too. He can talk to clients, draw a quick sketch or produce a full
rendering, make coffee, finish a casting, fabricate an elaborate
article, and have a conversation with me about a variety of topics.

I’d rather have him around than a gizmo any day. So would my
clients. And they have the final say.

Long live the human aspect of dexterity.

David Keeling
www.davidkeelingjewellery.com


#6

Well, there is one positive point to this problem ! and that is all
this fancy dancy stuff costs alot of money which most either dont
have or are reluctant to spend and you still need to have train some
knucklehead to run the equipment which narrows things down further
on those willing to spend money and then if the equipment & software
comes from some low wage cheap production source (it will break
down) we hand carvers can quadruple our fee’s and make the cadcam
user sign a contract when we get the call to bail him/her out of
thier problem so isuggest you find out who in your are is using this
splendifourous stuff so you can be ready - goo


#7

I disagree that the hand carver is an endangered species due to CAD.
I agree with Karen’s assessment.

A CAD cannot create nearly the design ideas I can with one misplaced
hammer blow. After all some of the most beautiful artwork is created
by happy accidents.

Working by hand will never be exticnt as long as the materials we
use to carve into are natural substances with all the flaws and
lovely abberrations that nature has given to it’s properties.

At least I will never stop and I have lines of people just waiting
for this very week. I am finally moving into a warehouse studio where
I have a ton of room to teach cameo carving. :slight_smile: Shell and gemstones
and I do not prefer to use a computer to design any of my work. I
find my hand drawings are much much more useful in the visualization
of the final piece.

Teri
An American Cameo Artist
www.cameoartist.com

Just one more thing…if the electricity goes out on a computer
jeweler he is stumped. Me I just light a candle and continue. heh


#8

To reassure yourself that great faceting is not dead, just check out
the work of my favorite stonecutter Steven Avery. I believe he will
be at Tucson. Just when you thought there were limitations to how
brilliantly anyone could facet a stone…Wow!

Lisa, (Screwing up 22k isn’t half as fun without James Barker around
to grouse at my ineptitude anymore) Topanga, CA USA


#9

Matthew,

I am so saddened by your post. Unfortunately, you are right about
the under 30 crowd wanting to see it spinning on their computer
screen (can I get it on my cell phone too!) I truly hate the whole
concept of the cad/cam. destroyer of artists, holding the flag of
progress marching along to our doom. Computers, the wave of the
future, the destruction of the past. 

CAD-CAM is hardly a “destroyer of artists”; it puts incredible power
in the artist’s hands. There are things one can do with it that can’t
be done any other way, and that, it seems to me, is where it shines.
Certainly the first use that any new technology is generally put to
is making imitations of things that were harder to do before with
more primitive methods. Eventually, creative people go beyond
replicating the past, and that’s how aesthetic progress is made.

I hate those commercials, "don't know what to do with your life, go
to art school and become and graphic designer." there is one fatal
flaw in this. You still must be artistic on some level to be any
good at this. I see many people who think that because they have
computer program talents that is all that they need. But without
good design elements and a good working knowledge of materials and
wear, a computer is only as good as the weakest link. 

I agree that artistic talent is helpful in any design-related field.
People who aren’t artistic in any way rarely go into these
professions, and even for those who are it’s difficult to succeeed in
them. Certainly a broad knowledge of materials and design
considerations is helpful, but so, these days, is some skill with a
computer. I don’t see why these things are assumed to be mutually
exclusive.

My husband is in the pre-press field. Starting with cut and paste
and went back to school for computer pre-press to compete with the
changing times. It is that background that sets him apart from the
simple "computer-learned generation" and when the computers aren't
doing what they need to be done, or when a correction needs to be
done on the film the was just ejected by the computer, no one else
has the experience to correct these problems, but because of
background, my husband is indispensable at his work. 
Though I think on some levels, you are correct, but if it continues
to move in this direction, where the model and the cast and the
setting are all computer generated. If computers ever break down,
will the art of our work be lost like the secrets of the ancients?
More than likely, we are indispensable in our business, because
bigger, faster, and more precise isn't always better. Computers are
not flexible like people. for example, machines have not taken over
the engraving business....there are still hand engravers. 

If civilization comes to a halt, people will likely be too busy
scrounging for basic necessities to worry about making jewelry, at
least for a while. Perhaps some of these ancient hand skills will be
lost for a time, but if people survive, they’ll be rediscovered.
After all, the world has gone through dark ages before. It will be
more difficult to recreate our high-tech electronic toys, relying as
they do on a complex world-wide supply network and advanced technical
processes, as well as esoteric knowledge which few people possess to
any comprehensive degree. So we should enjoy them while we can,
right?

To perpetually and singularly work on the computer, I do believe it
takes out some of the creativity and spontaneity that can only be
perpetuated by our minds to our hands. And this is our blessing not
our curse. You are an artist and no computer can replace the
you-ness of your work. Eventually we will come full circle where
people will search out artists again, because of cookie cutter
computer models will drive them to us. Many people still appreciate
the hand-made piece for what it is, flaws and all. And there you
have it, my optimistic views! 

It’s a common misperception that computer modeling inevitably leads
to “cookie-cutter” uniformity. Actually, it makes customization much
more feasible than traditional mass-production methods. When the cost
and difficulty of making a unique model goes down, it becomes more
feasible to offer a customer something new and different. Creativity
and spontaneity are not lost because ones hands are operating a mouse
(or articulated arm device) rather than, say, a flex-shaft; they are
enhanced. After all, if there’s less penalty for making a “mistake”
(one can simply hit control-Z instead of throwing the thing in the
scrap pile) then it’s easier to be experimental, don’t you think?

Andrew Werby
www.computersculpture.com


#10

Andrew,

I have one comment that I truely think you are wrong about.

After all, if there's less penalty for making a "mistake" (one can
simply hit control-Z instead of throwing the thing in the scrap
pile) then it's easier to be experimental, don't you think? 

Making mistakes is what makes us better at the things we do. Whether
it is in business, socially, artistically…it is our mistakes that
gives us a education. We learn from our mistakes and occasionally we
learn to become more innovative because of mistakes. By not making a
mistake and just hitting control-z may be easier, but easier isn’t
always better.

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing
which ones to keep. " Scott Adams (1957 - ), ‘The Dilbert Principle’

“Experience teaches slowly and at the cost of mistakes.” James A.
Froude (1818 - 1894)

-julia potts


#11

I wonder if other jewelers share this observation, that the audience
for our cast work doesn’t really give much thought for how the
patterns are made. They seem more-or-less aware of the idea of
one-of-a-kind vs. multiples. They also seem to be impressed if they
are buying original designs from the designer, but then again, there
does not seem to be any kind of “brand” value percieved for hand
carved patterns. I believe that a lot of the publics lack of
apprecication fore this comes from the fact that even those of us
who have very great public exposure as craftsmen in venues like arts
festivals, tend to be obscure about how we do what we do. Even the
idea of rubber molds to make multiples is likely to violate
someone’s idea of “handmade” or “original” so jewelers keep their
mouths shut about certain aspects of the mystery of our craft.

I am a hand carver and I also do a lot of mokume and married metals,
so I am very much a hands-on technique guy. But I learned a long
time ago that most people are only a little interested in all that.
I love to talk about it when I have an interested customer, but I
learned long ago that this is not what sells my work.

Stephen Walker


#12

All,

I wasn’t going to respond to this thread Christmas and all but I had
to jump in. Cad/cam is just a tool not some evil sent here from the
under world to destroy handwrought jewelry makers. Examples I can
think of include centrifuge, jewelers incorporated it into there
shops to cast, had to learn how to use it, bellows, hammers rulers,
dividers, foredoms, gravers, sticks, tin cans with strings,
telephones. Tools evolve and change peoples way of doing work or art
or fishing, even eating, sticks versus forks. I still would rather
use a fork to get my ants out of the ant hill. Cad/cam is not a new
technology it has been around for decades. If you look around you
now there are hundreds of items in your home designed and
manufactured using cad/cam. Table top or boutique manufacturing is
the future. More than likely you, in your managed care facility or
your children in their homes will have a machine that will spit out
goods on demand much like a printer. Will cad/cam go away and leave
us to forage for ants with sticks again? I think not. Fear stalls
creativity, extremism destroys it.

Cheers from the Peoples Republic of Boulder
J Morley creating with sticks, stones and a laser welder.


#13

item or multiples there is much more to the process than whether the
item is derived from a cad program or from hand carving. Fabrication
seems to be left out in the mist. The use of die struck findings
seems unconsidered. The reality of stone setting expense and
practicality for long term wear are somehow left out of the debate.

In my experience as a bench jeweler, repairperson, jewelry designer
and “sometimes artist”, a combination of technique and practical
application is needed. One consideration is certainly the initial
processing of the jewelry item. Is the cad worked and cast item a
well-cast piece? Will the quality of cast stone settings be up to
stuff or will additional bench work be needed to correct porosity in
prongs and channel walls? Will finishing of the cast item be a less
than desired incurred cost? Will the final item last over time while
worn by the customer or will you see a repeat business of come-back
repair?

There is much more to jewelry design and manufacture than casting.
Certainly, the well done cast item is here and serves the purpose
well. Certainly, the cast item with properly installed ready made
die struck findings does just as well if not better in some designs.
In some designs, fabrication from stock serves the best part of cost
control and quality in the final piece.

I see too often jewelry “designs” aimed at a fad or simply designed
to be different with few redeeming qualities in the reality of the
long term business and reality of short term labor costs. When it
comes to custom jewelry at our retail business, what we do is weight
the options carefully. Sometimes the item is best cast and done.
Sometimes the item is best cast as a body and purchased die struck
findings installed. Sometimes the item should be fabricated totally.
This work will carry our name from the time the customer leaves the
store until the ring is handed down through inheritance and perhaps
beyond that. We weigh each custom job at to design and practicality
for long term wear. This in turn is weighed with production needs
including casting and possible usage of ready made findings, stone
setting difficulties and costs of that labor. Other factors are
often ethereal and discovered while doing the work!

It seems to me that the custom item, whether one of a kind or
designed for production work must be a combination of what will be
beautiful and pleasing to the customer.followed with what will last
over time with little follow-up, followed with what will be the most
favorable labor intensity to make a profit overall.

The debate is not just will cad eliminate the hand carver but will
such modern innovation be joined with traditional technique to
produce a quality product at a reasonable profit without come back
due to “creative” but technically incorrect design.

Sorry, if these words are muddled realize I am in a retail business
and just got home. The rest of the season is just beginning, one
week left here for that plunge! Mostly men are in the store now,
almost desperate to get the perfect item for the holiday giving. : )

Thanks for any thoughts you might have on this post. Thomas.

Thomas


#14
I learned a long time ago that most people are only a little
interested in all that. I love to talk about it when I have an
interested customer, but I learned long ago that this is not what
sells my work. 

That’s interesting-- in my case, it sometimes is what sells my work,
at least to a degree. I do, among other things, detailed imagery in
anodized titanium. People love to hear how this is done, and I
usually carry a step-by-step set of pieces of titanium to use as a
"visual aid" at shows. I will say, this tends to appeal more to men
than to women. The men who find my explanation most fascinating can
be relied on to choose the most complex design, if they buy.

If you display a half-carved wax, along with the hand tools you use
to carve (and some chips of wax artfully scattered around them), you
may find a whole new appreciation for the difficulty of what you do.
I think people in general just assume that there is some kind of
machine that does the hard part, or at least shrinks the design down
for us.

I am convinced that the more people understand about the unusual or
difficult aspects of what we do, the more of an “investment” they
have in us, and the more likely they are to remember, and to buy.
You should hear people who bring friends to my booth and embark on
an excited explanation of what I explained to them earlier!

I will add that this is an advantage for the true hand-crafters
among us. It will not make a very romantic or fascinating tale to
explain, “Well, I buy castings from Stuller, then pop stones in
them, then string some beads…”

Noel


#15

I will make a short comment on what has been said: Creativity does
not live in the computer any more than a wonderful photograph lives
in the camera. Behind the camera is the phographer and behind the
well-done cad design is a person who has first learned the program
and most of all has the creative talent to bring it to a render which
is not cookie cutter. Sure, just as copy/paste works in text, some
cad designs will be done by less than creative people. They know the
program and will produce so so designs. They will also render the
designs of others as a copy artist might do. This last service is
quite valuable to the designer who does not have access to or
training to run the cad program…the design is farmed out to the cad
person. The jewelry cad tech is a good resource to have when you
design and don’t have the time yet to do it yourself.

What comes out is the result of the person running the program and
what they are working with creatively. If the design is worthy that
will be proven in the final product, whether a single item or mass
produced.

I see the use of cad no different than the photographer going
digital and retouching in graphics software, neither of which will
make a beautiful item if the beauty is not there is the first place
regardless of production method.

I don’t see this killing the wax carver. We do both, designs farmed
out to a cad tech and hand carving. For designs needing revision as
the work is done, hand carving works wonderfully.

Well, that is my 2 cents.

Tom


#16

The real problem with cad developed pieces I have is based on
whether the person operating the system is a jeweler or simply a
product designer. Whether the person has worked with the materials
and methods of jewelry directly or is like a commodity trader who’s
only concept of an object is something on paper, or this case, on a
computer screen is the real question to be answered. I use computers
to compose graphics and ads regularly, but it is my background in
design that allows me to make sense of it. There is the saying
something to the effect “it looked good on paper” that is relative
to this discussion. Any innovation is not a good thing if it becomes
the only thing accepted. It seems that we are being sold a pig in a
poke, computers, while being a useful tool, are not the sole answer
to any problem as they seem to be projected to be. I might be
attacked as a traditionalist for saying this, but it is my belief
that a true jeweler is a person who knows the methods and materials
jewelry and knows how to integrate these into a strong design not the
person who only knows how to do a 360 rotation of an cyber object on
a computer screen.

Peace,
Richard


#17

Andrew,

I have one comment that I truely think you are wrong about. 

Just one?

After all, if there’s less penalty for making a “mistake” (one can
simply hit control-Z instead of throwing the thing in the scrap
pile) then it’s easier to be experimental, don’t you think?

Making mistakes is what makes us better at the things we do.
Whether it is in business, socially, artistically...it is our
mistakes that gives us a education. We learn from our mistakes and
occasionally we learn to become more innovative because of
mistakes. By not making a mistake and just hitting control-z may be
easier, but easier isn't always better. 

I don’t disagree with the basic premise that “mistakes” can lead one
in new, unexpected, and exciting directions. But as any jeweler can
testify, there are mistakes that just waste time and material. The
beauty of a computer-mediated design process is that at worst, you’re
only wasting time - the pixels are recycled without loss. You’re
allowed to make all the mistakes you want, and can back out at any
time if you decide you don’t like the result. I’ve known artists
(fellow art students) who made great sketches on newsprint, but froze
up when confronted with a big sheet of expensive rag paper - they
were afraid to mess it up. Think of the computer as an infinite
supply of newsprint - you can save whatever looks good, and crumple
up the rest.

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing
which ones to keep. " Scott Adams (1957 - ), 'The Dilbert
Principle' 

Exactly; I often end up with a series of variations on a design,
where I’ve started down a path, taken it to a certain conclusion,
saved that, then backed up and taken another fork in the road where
I’ve done different things to it which led to different endings -
it’s a good illustration of the “Dilbert Principle” enunciated above.

"Experience teaches slowly and at the cost of mistakes." James A.
Froude (1818 - 1894) 

People seem to think that anything that comes out of a computer is
"perfect" by definition, and that the artist is somehow left out of
the process. But nothing could be farther from the truth. Every
technique has its strengths and weaknesses; computer-mediated design
is no exception. It’s quite possible to make something that seems
great on the screen, but just doesn’t work in metal. On the other
hand, one can do things this way that are nearly impossible with
traditional techniques. It takes artistic skill to work with the
process all the way along and decide what works and what doesn’t.

To take an example from your trade, a few years back people started
using burs in a flex-shaft to carve waxes with. I’m sure people who
had learned to do this with files and gravers were aghast. After all,
the new technique, though faster in removing material, didn’t yield
the fair surfaces or sharp cuts they expected. But somehow, the world
adjusted - the new technique found its niche, and most people managed
to incorporate it into their bag of tricks, to be used when
appropriate and avoided when other tools would work better. Is the
computer really so different?

Andrew Werby
www.computersculpture.com


#18

Usually, when customers, (stores mostly), look at my carvings in
fossil tusk, they only want to know:

  1. What is that? (fossilized walrus tusk)
  2. DId I carve it myself? (uh huh)
  3. Is that a nude? (yep)

In exasperation,with a straight face, I have told some persistent
questioners who have trouble believing that I didn’t buy ready made
carvings somewhere, that actually, I have a crew of little people in
Guatamala cutting and carving the pieces. I say that they do it with
paleolithic flint knives, and they work in caves by candlelight. I
tell the querent that it is an ancient tradition. Amazing how many
would rather believe that.

So far, in twenty years, none of them have cared how I did it, or any
of the details, just if they found it aesthetically pleasing, and if
they thought they could sell it. Oddly enough, most gallery owners
end up keeping my carved pieces for themselves. I wonder what they
would say if I showed the steps tossed around some tools and chucked
little chips of tusk about? Maybe I will try it…lol.

Lisa,(One of my greyhounds, Robert Redford, has taken to escaping.
He races down the hill to my elderly disabled neighbor’s, where the
dog bursts in the house and just sits there, spending the hour with
the neighbor petting him. The neighbor loves it, but its a pain to go
hunt the silly hound down. The rest of the time the dog spends
upside down, asleep on our couch.) Topanga, CA USA


#19

Anyone think that maybe back in the dinosaur age the sushi bars were
worried about becoming extinct?

all because some fool discovered fire and COOKED his meat & fish?
(Probably happened by accident, some creature fell in the fire during
one of those family squabbles and since there was nuthin’ else to
eat…)

People still eat raw meat and seafood in the era of microwave ovens
in fact they pay a lot more for it nowadays. I reckon that’ll be what
happens to the hand wax carvers. Still be around, but charge a lot
more than they do now.

Brian