Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

The look of hand made


#1

Was: Re: [Orchid] Calculating bezel length for oval cabs

When I showed the ring, gallery manager studied it under
magnification and than handed back to me with indignation. She said
"Sir we only handle handmade jewellery here. Yours is obviously not
! I do not see any tool marks anywhere." 

In the past it’s been discussed here the intrinsic value that is
attributed to jewelry that is hand made. In the eye of a jewelry
buyer, what would be the properties of a piece that would
communicate the value of the hand labour. A sphere of wood that is
hand carved with a knife and close to perfection except for the tool
marks, would be less perfect than a sphere carved, and finished with
sand paper. The value of the knife carved sphere would be judged as
greater to the human eye would it not, because the tool marks would
distinguish it from a mechanical creation.


#2

If the deciding factor is texture left by tools then that style may
sell well to a certain clientele…if so then do that look for custom
orders. I have heard that comment of “not hand made” because it was
well finished on everything from a hand raised jello mold done as a
MFA project to forged steel hinges for a door…both with no hammer
marks remaining.

Such an issue is easily settled with a few photos of the work in
progress. If the other person fails to believe the photographic
evidence then let them know you can happily leave…or add…any making
marks, but such work is on a custom basis as it is outside the normal
quality of your product.

On occasion I make swords…forged out and then polished to about
600-1,000 grit hand rubbed finish. I would think this is below the
norm for finish on jewelry, but I do not buff.

The work must be straight and have an optically clean
surface…follow one light bulb down the blade with no wiggle.
Perhaps I am showing them to the wrong folk or everyone has a better
eye than I do, but thus far I have not been accused of not having
made the work…I would be happy to leave any texture that the
client wishes.

Ric Furrer
Sturgeon Bay, WI


#3
In the past it's been discussed here the intrinsic value that is
attributed to jewelry that is hand made. In the eye of a jewelry
buyer, what would be the properties of a piece that would
communicate the value of the hand labour. 

This is the most misunderstood subject about jewellery. To say it
very plain, - if handmade jewellery is exactly the same as cast, than
hand fabrication was a waste of time. The purpose is not to hand
fabricate for the sake of calling it handmade, but to achieve
something not possible with any other type of fabrication. In this
case, the value is self-evident.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#4

Your gallery owner is obviously a horse’s ass. Let me share a theory
I worked with in graduate school, which came about as the result of
two coincidences. First, a book by Michael Bryson called “Vision and
Painting”, then a film of a Japanese artist who made small animals in
copper, raising up bunnies and squirrels out of copper sheet. Bryson
talked about the idea of “erasure”. If you look at a Vermeer, the
erasure is extensive. He smooths out brush strokes, carefully blends
colors, etc., and it’s difficult to find his signature. Picasso, on
the other hand, leaves all kinds of about the act of
painting. You can feel the viscosity of the paint, see the tracks of
brushes, see where the paint soaked into the canvas, and his
signature is impossible to miss. Watching the master Japanese
craftsman at work, it suddenly dawned on me, this guy knows exactly
where he wants to stop. One more hammer blow, and he loses something
he wants to say.

Take that to the world of craft. Vicorian metalwork was highly
finished, symetry was abuindant, detail extensive, and only another
craftsman would know how the stuff was made. Almost never a
signature. So there’s a social equivalency between erasure and
anonymity. Then later, during the British and later American Crafts
movments, back come the hammer marks, the kerf of the saw, the
chatter of the graver. Is a piece of Danish Modern furniture any less
"hand made" than a Stickley? Of course not, but the finish is quite
different. So are the objectives. What essentially happens is that a
decision is made as to what elements will take priority; the
material, the methods, the finish, the overall design. The Danes
were elemental designers, just like the Shakers. Morris and Stickley
were process artists. Before I get all anthropological on you and
bring up the socio-political elements (as they threaten to rear their
heads), let’s assume the gallery owner adhered to the perticular
simplistic and pedestrian model that comes with a cursory
understanding of the last century’s craft movement. She doesn’t
understand that the jewelry profession, over the last decades, has
pursued extensive erasure, not to speak of anonymity. We have our own
goals, and we are proud of how far we can take it. Not that I don’t
enjoy a product with vigor or even the occaisonal accident. My steel
work was all about that. But my jewelry is like the Danish furniture.
I NEED a good smooth, level surface. I don’t want anything to
distract from that visual field. I NEED my stones set level, so that
they eye can appreciate that wonderful faceting. My bezels will be a
perfect frame for the stone, so that the eye doesn’t get caught up
with a ragged edge of uneven thickness. We are a foreign entity to
her. That said, she has every right to be looking for a perticular
character in the work she wants in her gallery, but to pass a cursory
judgement on your work is merely a display of “hipster burguoise”.
Take it somewhere else. You can play to your audience, make stuff
she’ll like, but you’ll regret being a chamelion and it’s a hard
habit to break. Better to follow your heart, enjoy that intense
attention to detail and finish.

I once showed some of my forged steel sculpture to some students in
the sculpture department (I was in metalsmithing). They all agreed,
“your technical virtuosity is getting in the way of your aesthetic”.
I replied, “you would say that since none of you know how to weld”.

David L. Huffman


#5
The value of the knife carved sphere would be judged as greater to
the human eye would it not, because the tool marks would
distinguish it from a mechanical creation. 

No. Just does not know how to or does not care to do better quality
work… regardless of material used.

Carved gem materials do not increase in price in relationship to the
tool marks left when finished.

Does not even make sense. If someone did work like that in metal as
an apprentice in Europe, your work would be crushed.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


#6

Hi Richard;

Does not even make sense. If someone did work like that in metal
as an apprentice in Europe, your work would be crushed. 

I’d be a little careful with how broad that statement is, no offense
intended, of course. Certainly there is a preponderant adherence in
Europe to perfectionism, but there have to be crafts people with
broader sensibilities, no? They can’t all be a bunch of anal
retentives. :slight_smile: Sometimes I think that those folks would be a little
shocked at how, here in America, some of us just aren’t that
impressed.

David L. Huffman


#7
I'd be a little careful with how broad that statement is 

alot of conetmporary jewelry in europe is characterized by tool mark
type look, or reticulation, or etching with acid, patinas, etc. one
website is http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/vr

out out of italy. Also i’m sure this gallery owner would be just as
happy with cast toolmarks, it is just the look she that she wants.
Also you have to take into consideration the aspect of how people
that don’t create things are aweinspired about a created thing, and
they also have many customers that think that way that will pay for
it, so that’s why she wants it, also she wants to see other known
creative techniques i’m sure,
dave


#8
Sometimes I think that those folks would be a little shocked at
how, here in America, some of us just aren't that impressed. 

Spot on David.

I have recently moved to Dusseldorf in Germany,and I have not found
that the jewellery here is as good as the general perception is world
wide. I traveled the entire Germany last year before settling on
Dusseldorf and I was somewhat underwhelmed at what I saw.

For instance, I have catalogs of collected designs from Germany from
the late 70’s and most of the designs in the shop windows are still
the same now as then.

I am not saying that there is no new designs, of course. I have
found some excellent jewellers here.

But generally, the German goldsmiths are in a rut. “This is how it is
done and so you will do it that way as well”

American goldsmiths are far more innovative and willing to take
chances concerning design.

One has only to look at the Agta designs to see that.

Cheers, Hans


#9
I once showed some of my forged steel sculpture to some students
in the sculpture department (I was in metalsmithing). They all
agreed, "your technical virtuosity is getting in the way of your
aesthetic". I replied, "you would say that since none of you know
how to weld". 

Comments like that should come with a pre-warning, “Do not imbibe
liquid refreshment whilst reading the next paragraph.”

I’ll have to clean the soda off my desk once I stop laughing.

Thanks!


#10

What a thoughtful explanation of the various aesthetics.

Thanks!
Linda


#11

David, that’s a really interesting post. If you don’t blog yourself,
I’d love to develop that into a short interview on the topic and
stick it on the Primitive Method blog
http://ganoksin.com/blog/primitive.

Let me know if that would be of interest to you.
Jamie Hall


#12

This is why it is so hard for me to bring myself to participate on
this forum. Some lack respect for the differences in aesthetics that
we all may have concerning the way works look or the way things are
done. Some say it is sloppy and lack of skill to show tool marks,
and some say that refined pieces look like mall jewelry. It doesn’t
matter. If a gallery owner doesn’t like your work for whatever
reason, that may be because they know what their customers look for
in jewelry. It doesn’t reflect on the jeweler, except that you may
want to find another venue.

On the other hand, I have made a few simple single stone settings
that the customer was disappointed in because they were wanting my
more organic look.

So, I had to take a hammer to a well polished piece and bang it up
for them.

I’ve seen sloppy workmanship in the more refined pieces such as the
m= all jewelry store pieces, and I’ve seen shabby work in very
organic w= ork. I’ve also seen great works in all styles. It goes
both ways. = But, ultimately, this does not mean that the customers,
the galleries, nor the jewelers are wrong in their aesthetic
decisions. It just means that we are a diverse bunch of people.
Thank the gods!!

Being an aesthetic bigot, is just one step away from being a lot of
other bad things. Let’s just let the market decide.

Michael Johnson
http://www.cosmicfolklore.com
http://cosmicfolklore.ganoksin.com/blogs/


#13
They can't all be a bunch of anal retentives. :-) 

There’s more than a little tongue in cheek on this thread, I guess.
But let’s talk about flutes for a sec. Jo-Ann did casting work for a
guy who makes sterling silver concert flutes into the 5 figure range.
Beautifulthings… But then again, decades ago when I lived in
Albuquerque I bought a hand-made bamboo flute from the Native
American who had made it.

I don’t play, BTW, it was just beautiful. It had some stones inlaid
and woodburning and string wrap here and there. You had to see it,
it was a real work of art, which why I bought it.

In terms of flutes, the silver wins hands down. In terms of art I
don’t see a lot of difference, in a way. It’s when people feel the
need to take sides that there’s a problem. I have to agree - I’ve
known plenty of gallery owners who said, one way or another, “That’s
not funky enough.” Or “It’s too slick”, whatever that means. Hey,
it’s their gallery, I just don’t think that funkier is necessarily
better unless it’s intrinsically more beautiful. Which usually it’s
not.


#14
I have recently moved to Dusseldorf in Germany,and I have not
found that the jewellery here is as good as the general perception
is world wide. I traveled the entire Germany last year before
settling on Dusseldorf and I was somewhat underwhelmed at what I
saw. 

Are we talking about design or craftsmanship?

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


#15
Being an aesthetic bigot, is just one step away from being a lot
of other bad things. Let's just let the market decide. 

Well said, Michael.


#16

I believe the thread began because the work was hand made, but the
evidence of the making was removed as per the maker’s wish. The
result being that the gallery owner did not believe it to be hand
made.

That judgment of the gallery owner speaks not to aesthetic, but
skill…or…not believing the maker.

I have no issue with leaving tool marks, however…as has been
stated before…leaving tool marks by choice is an aesthetic, but
having them there because that is the best you can do is quite
different. At that point it ceases to be an aesthetic choice and
becomes a factor of command of the craft entirely…or lack thereof.

Once you can control the materials and the tools then all that
remains is design…well, that and serendipity.

Richard Furrer
Sturgeon Bay, WI
www.doorcountyforgeworks.com


#17
Being an aesthetic bigot, is just one step away from being a lot of
other bad things. Let's just let the market decide. 

First, bigot is a pretty harsh word. Intolerant of others opinions.
That I have my opinion does not mean I am intolerant of others
opinions.

Andy,

I have seen your work in person and I am quite sure the market does
not determine the design or craftsmanship of what you make, or how it
is finished.

There is a difference between high end platinum or gold jewelry for
the wedding and engagement or high end diamond or colored gem market,
and the textured and patina-ed gallery jewelry. I am straddle both
"markets" with my own work.

I do not believe I have seen fine quality large diamond, aqua,
emerald, tanzanite, ect. set in metal that had tool marks visible.

Most of the quality work by top metalsmiths that I see that is
textured have even, uniform surfaces that are not marred by tool
marks or solder seams showing. Not so much an aesthetic bigot as
stating what I have seen in the work of Jeff and Susan Wise, Harold
O’Connor, Marne Ryan, Michael Zobel, as well as your work, Andy.

I have looked closely at these artist’s pieces and have my opinion
about whether the work has been influenced by the market place.

I also think it is a disservice to newbies to not be educated to a
standard that allows them to ask for and receive better prices for
better craftsmanship.

There are artists who won’t put dings on their piece to satisfy a
gallery owner. They have their own sense of integrity about their
work. That would be like having a gallery owner ask you to high
polish your pieces to be acceptable, and I doubt that would
happen…

There is a lot of difference between what is shown at Mobilia, Aaron
Faber, or Patina and a local craft gallery.

I saw a brooch of yours, if my mind serves me correctly, that was
sterling and red enamel and had a patina, it had a little irregular
blob of gold that looked like something that happens by accident on
one side of the frame holding the enamel. I was tickled by that
because it was unexpected. Looked like a mistake but I believe it was
the intention.

I remember a long, long time ago, in a Metalsmith magazine, someone
reviewed Harold O’Connor’s work and mentioned that one of the pieces
had glue showing, and that the glue was distracting. Probably just
one of those aesthetic bigots!

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


#18

Hi,

A number of years ago Sharon Church (UARTS, Phila PA) wrote an
article printed in Metalsmith Mag. As I remember, it was about the
value of ‘risk’ in handmade jewelry. That gave me the courage to
fail.

Esta Jo Schifter
Shifting Metal
www.shiftingmetal.com


#19
A number of years ago Sharon Church (UARTS, Phila PA) wrote an
article printed in Metalsmith Mag. As I remember, it was about the
value of 'risk' in handmade jewelry. That gave me the courage to
fail. 

I believe David Pye also wrote about element of risk vs element of
certainty…was also echoed in a lecture by Peter Ross published in
"the anvil’s ring" maybe 10 years ago.

Richard Furrer
Sturgeon Bay, WI


#20
I have no issue with leaving tool marks, however...as has been
stated before...leaving tool marks by choice is an aesthetic, but
having them there because that is the best you can do is quite
different. 

I am trying to understand this. Can someone explain to me the
meaning of tool marks. What is their aesthetic value? What do they
signify? If you buy new car and I add some scratches to the finish
aesthetically. Will you thank me for enhancing aesthetic value of
your car, or will you sue me for damages?

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com