Just stumbled upon an interesting thought regarding the American Arts and Crafts Movement as posted on wikipedia:
In fact, the proponents of the Arts and Crafts movement were against the principle of a division of labour, which in some cases could be independent of the presence or absence of machines. They were in favour of the idea of the master craftsman, creating all the parts of an item of furniture, for instance, and also taking a part in its assembly and finishing, with some possible help by apprentices. This was in contrast to work environments such as the French Manufactories, where everything was oriented towards the fastest production possible. (For example, one person or team would handle all the legs of a piece of furniture, another all the panels, another assembled the parts and yet another painted and varnished or handled other finishing work, all according to a plan laid out by a furniture designer who would never actually work on the item during its creation.) The Arts and Crafts movement sought to reunite what had been ripped asunder in the nature of human work, having the designer work with his hands at every step of creation. Some of the most famous apostles of the movement, such as Morris, were more than willing to design products for machine production, when this did not involve the wretched division of labour and loss of craft talent, which they denounced. Morris designed numerous carpets for machine production in series.
I’m realizing that part of what interests me in handmaking everything (from the Anti-Factory clothing line to the foamboard sculptural works) is that my hands follow through on every aspect of the production process. Granted, there are some works that I create that involve production that I have to outsource (printing, etc), but i guess what struck me about this quote is how much it resonates with me in regards to Anti-Factory.
I was being phone interviewed with Sabrian Gschwandtner yesterday (of knitknit fame) and she’s writing an article on craft and politics for the next American Craft magazine. I’ve always presented Anti-Factory as a one-woman endeavor that will never expand beyond a single person’s ability to produce and sell an object, which flies against the face of any successful business model today. So I realize now that it’s some weird form of being involved in every single step of the way, almost like an artisan model.
I’m getting really excited to start working on a set of American Craftsman furniture made out of cardboard and paper mache — an entire large set complete with mantle, fixtures, chairs, tables, etc., and they’ll be kind of lumpy and handmade and humanly humble. The cardboard will all be recycled from “industry” — packaging boxes, etc. — and i’m considering showing some of the preexisting logos and printed packaging on the outsides of the constructions. Not sure yet, but i’m getting excited!!!!
I’d love to partner with a museum that has a collection of Craftsman furniture that I can use as study models. Hmmmm……
And wonders of wonders: one can download an entire 600+ page PDF collection of “The American Craftsman,” from the early 1900’s. The damn thing is copyright free and in the public domain on google. Jesus!