When you buy a hand-made object you rarely have the chance to see how it was made. Guided visits to makers´ studios, live craft demonstrations at craft fairs, and tv documentaries, are all ways you can get closer to the magic of making objects by hand.
When demonstrate their skills in public they know that you – children especially – are often as fascinated as they are in the processes of making an object by hand. To see a skilled maker transform raw materials in to beautiful objects can be a magical experience. Uusually a maker gives the impression that his or her work is effortless and easy. But, as anyone who has ever tried “having a go” at throwing a pot on a potter´s wheel or weaving part of a willow basket will know that the craftsperson´s fluency of movement is the result of hours, weeks and years of experience and practice. Craft skills are real skills – that cannot be faked. There is no substitute for time, experience and patience to master a craft.
In the past the act of making was something that was an everyday experience. But in the sophisticated, internet-based Information Age we now live in we have become more and more distanced from the real, creative act of making with our hands and what is termed “tacit knowledge”. What was in the past a necessary part of living has now become a special interest, and as such the process of making itself, is gaining a new value as entertainment, as history and culture in action, and as a form of creative education.
If you have never stopped to consider craftspeople in their role of creative magicians, entertainers, actors and educators, then you´ll be surprised to know that makers are quite often in demand for their ability to draw a crowd in public spaces, and our ability to intreague you and to capture the attention of your children!
At craft fairs in Britain today it is quite common to see makers demonstating to the public. The craft show organisers know that members of the public come to see “live craft” as well as to see and buy work – so they pay their demonstrators (usually professional, traditional craftspeople whose skills are rarely seen today) to work in public and answer questions about how they work. The value that live craft has is now becoming more recognised where I live in rural Spain. But craft fairs are not the only places where you will see makers in action . They also appear quite regularly on television in documentaries and historic programmes – and we even make it to the big screen sometimes, especially to lend authenticity to period films. Earlier this year Lluis and I were contacted by a UK company working on a new film by the director Ridley Scott. In our case, we were contacted because they were looking for period baskets, but in the case of Robin Wood, the UK bowlturner, he was actually filmed too.
Partly because Lluis´ basketry workshop and my textile studio are the only ones of their kind in our area – the Ribeira Sacra in Galicia, north Spain – we are quite often contacted by television companies wishing to film us, and every year we receive requests. In November 2009 the Spanish Channel II presenter Dolors Elias spent a day with us with her film crew, to film us for a programme called Babel, on immigration – Click here for footage available from the 14 December 2009.
Our skills, as craftspeople, are increasingly becoming recognised by craft fair and events organisers and the entertainment industry as a whole. As professionals we are proud of our skills and ability to fascinate and draw people in and show them how we work, whether at local craft fairs or exhibitions or in our own workshops. It must be said though, that the greatest pleasure of all, however, is the personal satisfaction of making in itself, and finding how your skills increase over time, with experience and patience. This is one of the secrets of craft which can only be learned by experience – by doing and not by watching!
Text by Anna Champeney of AC Estudio Textil, Cristosende 78, 32765 A Teixeira, Ourense, Galicia, Spain
You can book guided visits, family craft sessions and craft workshops during a cottage holiday at Casa dos Artesans holiday cottage, next to Anna, and her partner Lluis´ textile and basketry workshops in the Ribeira Sacra, Galicia, north Spain (40 minutes from Ourense city). Contact: email@example.com
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