On flaws

Hello all,
This is from the woodturning group, but I feel it's appropriate to blacksmiting as well.


Quite a while ago, I recall a person (and I cannot remember whom) saying to me (paraphrased):
"It won't be long before everything is produced with such precision, and made from things that have little direct connection with natural materials, that people will long for the moments when they can leave the office and just touch something made of wood."
That has stuck with me over the years, and I think it really rings true. Beyond the concept of wood as a material (wood was just a handy metaphor, of course), I would imagine (and I know it is true for myself, at least) that people either conciously or subconciously are beginning to reach that state. There is a lot of value in modern production methods, and it is amazing what things can be made, and made availible to the general public. But our stunning degree of wealth in terms of manufactured goods comes with a human cost as well.
While I have a computer in front of me that contains billions of microscopic transistors working in unison, I no longer see that as unusual. Despite the amazing degree of sophistication in the technology, and the sheer amount of raw genius that went into creating it, it is so cheaply availible and commonplace, that the wonder of a this thing that is unrivaled in human history is greatly diminished. It was made by machines which can do no other thing, rarely make mistakes, and have no inherant obsticles to overcome- machines operated by individuals who most likely could not explain even a fraction of the functions of that machine is actually performing. There is nothing there to hold in awe, save the minds that initially concieved and implemented them, and it is hard to capture that elusive image and pause to give thanks for the giants who made a thing possible.
On the other hand, a flawed object created by the hand of a living human being says something enitrely different. It is the flaw itself that directs the mind of the observer to wonder and disbelief. The flaw reveals to us that the object is *not* the product of a dispassionate automation which is capable of mindless repetition, but rather an object which has been worked by a person who has had to overcome many obsticles and endure many failures to learn how to bend a material to their will. When they made the thing, they cared. Even on a bad day, a craftsman or artisan does not try to produce shoddy work- and even on a good day, a person who has no abilities or interest in those areas cannot replicate even the meanest of items made by those who have taken the time to learn what is needed to create a thing.
It is that knowledge, whether it is stated explicitly or buried deep in the psyche, that breeds a general fascination with flawed works. A flawed work has a soul, and contains in every curve and plane a reflection of the dedication and work of the person who created it. It is the union of all those things which make us human crystalized, and reconnects us to the hundreds of thousands of years in which our species has struggled with mind, heart, and hands to bring us to our present level of wealth and leisure. The flaw is history set in material form- displaying a snapshot of the temporary limitations of, and even more importantly, the promise of an ever-changing evolving mind.
That's why your observation is not all that peculiar, at least in my mind.
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I think this is especially true when the "art" object is particularly suited to it's purpose. If it is made to do a job and does it better than the mass produced junk from Walmart, then you have something truly unique and ultimately more valuable. The flaws tell us this thing was hand made for a reason from materials that are expected be around for a while. Have we all noticed that most of the products these days are plastic and small bits of metal and wood where required? There are folks selling "oak" furnishing that is particle board wrapped in an oak veneer! I've got clamps on my bench that are plasic with a spring and maybe a stiffening rod. I even like them for what they are but part of what they are is disposable. I appreciate old tools even more and will go out of my way and spend more money for then.
GA
wrote:

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Well I have found that when I am doing pieces for the general public that they like hammer marks and slight irregularities as well. I can take a flatter and iron out all the dings but most often I find myself breaking the corners off of bar stock because that appeals to the customer more than a piece that looks like it was made in a machine shop.
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