I have discovered a new comfort in producing and selling tangible things I like to make. I can call it an art or a craft item and it doesn’t really matter to me. Personally everything I make is a form of art. I consider the feel of a tool in my hand or a machine on the bench and even a messy workshop as artful. The beauty and art of the creation process. It’s all a personal experience. That’s the key word; experience
But the comfort in the enjoyment of tangible art is I don’t have to teach anyone how enjoy it. True art does not need a complex set of instructions. It’s often a first impression or an emotion. That impression reflects back to the creator, whether natural or manmade.
As I composed the first two paragraphs, I thought about and liked the phrase “tangible art” for what I was trying to express. So I started searching the internet to see how other artists may have used the phrase. I discovered the URL: http://tangibleart.org was available and it now links to this website. I continued searching for other links.
The following is what I discovered, written by:
An artist based in Portland Oregon. Cedar paints vivid, dramatic landscapes, colorful flowers, and portraits by commission.
Cedar's website: ArtByCedar.com
Cedar's blog: ArtByCedar.com/blog
As far as I am concerned, Cedar has expressed my thoughts better than I could. Published here with permission:
The Meaning of Art
When I refer to “art” here, I am referring specifically to visual art, and more specifically to painting because that’s what I do. But I’m sure it applies to other forms of art as well.
Art can have very concrete, literal meaning to it—the more representational a work of art is, the easier it is to attribute a meaning to it. Everyone understands realistic representations of things from real life—for example, paintings of trees—when looking at one, you can say, “It’s a painting of trees, and trees are lovely to look at—that’s the obvious purpose of this art; no mystery there.”
This is why purely abstract art tends to appeal to a smaller audience. It is common to want to know what you are looking at so you can place a literal meaning on it. But art, even art that is fairly straightforward in its subject matter, has a larger and deeper meaning that goes beyond the literal.
This larger and deeper meaning is not intellectual in nature—it is emotional. All you need in order to “get” art is to look at it and become fascinated, motivated, influenced, impressed, inspired, or otherwise stimulated by it. All you need is to feel a connection to the art.
Most people do feel a connection when looking at art (not all art, of course, but the art that particularly appeals to them personally.) Putting this feeling into words can sometimes be difficult, but just because you can’t always explain it in concrete terms does not mean it’s not real or important, and it does not mean you are missing anything. If you look at a piece of art and feel nothing, all it means is that particular piece of art is not meant for you. If you look at enough art, you will learn what you like and what has the most meaning for you.
The artist has the job of living, feeling, and processing her unique experience and then finding a way to express that to others. The viewer may or may not get the same feelings that the artist meant to express—and that is okay. One of the fun things about art is how different people interpret it differently. Art is the physical manifestation of a mysterious human force: imagination. If it sparks your imagination or puts you in a certain mood, then you “get it.”
And that’s nice…But how does all of this apply to real life? What is the point of art—what is its use? Well here’s where choice comes in. Once you look at enough art to realize what you like, what you connect to, you get to make the choice to surround yourself with those things that inspire you and help you in your life.
The trick is to figure out what you really, really love—when you find it you will know. If you realize that a certain shade of red makes you happy and energized, making the conscious choice to put something of that color in your living room so you see it every day will, in theory, make you a more happy and energized person. When your spirit feels heavy and sad, art can help lift you out of that. When you feel bogged down by apathy or lost in painful frustration, looking at art can bring you back to yourself and help you keep going. Deliberately creating a mood in your immediate surroundings can help you to create the life that you want, in a very tangible way.
This interpretation of art’s meaning is obviously the result of my optimistic, existential outlook on life. I try to apply my energy—mental, emotional, physical and spiritual, towards personal transformation and growth.
But art has a myriad of uses: it is used as a tool for psychological healing, a symbol in spiritual rituals, an impetus for political or social change, an expression of inquiry, a form of entertainment, evidence of status or identity, a reminder of what’s important, and most commonly, a simple celebration of beauty.
You can decide what meaning art may have in your own life. It’s up to you! So, what does art mean to you? How will you choose to use it?
If this is not your first visit and you look very carefully, you may be able to see that this blog has morphed slightly.
Dimensional Art Org is now running in the newest version of Joomla which is a content management system (CMS) for creating web sites. Previously it was hosted in WordPress, another CMS. There are many reasons for the change that are off-topic for here.
An improvement is every post will have the opportunity for comment. It will require registration and a few security hoops to hop through, but that is the way it is these days. I would like to see some genuine feedback.
I used the same format as the old system and all the previous content was moved here. The original creation dates were lost but that is not critical for my purposes. I hope you like the change, I do…
I have discovered there is no easy answer to that question. I have seen it asked in many creative environments and the answer is never a single universal consensus. Just do a search on the internet and you will see and read what I say is true.
The issue begins and the answer changes with using a tool to aid the use of ones hands in making something. A sharp rock (flint) is considered a tool when it is used for human controlled cutting. So has that somehow diminished the definition of handmade primitive arrows? Another rock (a tool) was used to bash the sharp edges on the arrowhead. But the tools were actually handmade from available “raw” materials.
So… perhaps handmade must include the use tools? Handmade tools? No commercial made steel edge tools? I could expand on this line of thought but I proclaim that “pure” handmade is a very extreme limitation to be a part of modern interpretation of the handmade definition.
But there is another expansion into the use of machines. Does the use of a sewing machine prevent a man’s dress suit from being handmade? Probably. How was the cloth made? The term of preference is hand tailored to avoid the conflict with handmade.
One generally accepted definition is that handmade includes any tool or machine that is directed solely by the human hand. So this conveniently includes purchased or non-handmade tools and machines. It doesn't mention a powered machine... Hmmm.
I am actually not proposing any fix for the purest meaning of hand made. I am making my point that it is not a well-defined concept to the casual user of the term. What is handmade depends on whom you ask. Jewelry has a precise trade definition as found in this Wikipedia search. Does the definition infer the use of automated (automatic directed) machinery used to produce “finding” like clasps and chains and factory beads or even automated wire drawing (sizing), that should preclude the use of the term “handmade” in the jewelry business? So be it. The Wikipedia link may be defective as I certainly consider lost wax silver casting from hand carved wax as “handmade”. So even this example demonstrates the ambiguity of creating a one size fits all definition.
Perhaps it’s like defining pornography, “You know it when you see it.”
I understand the intent and tradition of the archaic term “handmade”. I personally make handmade items I believe to be within the definition. I may also add non handmade items like the necklace chain to finish the project. So there can be a mix.
I also make many items using my mind and hands on a computer input devise to store personally created directions that guide automated machines to do things my hands and limited muscle control cannot manage. These items are just as personally created (note the change in definition) as my handmade items. I can easily NOT refer to these items as handmade.
However, the machines are strictly limited to doing what I direct by the hand programing. So I can argue that I directly control what the machine produces, but breaking “hand” tradition is not worth the fight. I am happy with traditional handmade and love to work within the perceived definition, just because it is traditional.
I also do not feel less of a creative person using my modern definition of personally produced items using computer numeric control (CNC) machines.
Personal CNC makes precision dimensioned components from my human directed inputs. As far as single person art, it is still as pure and traditional as it can be, because I control all the steps. I have total design control. The final machine execution is automatic but there is total human effort in creating the machine movement.
Including automation in handmade is more a concept of creativity control verses human muscle control. I can honor the difference.
So I will leave the term handmade as a sacrament to muscle control in the creative process. My choice of the words “personally created” will include any creative process under total control of myself.
I have taken the big step and retired from my construction and energy management career. Now begins the time when I get serious about further developing and exploiting my artistic desires. The key word in the previous sentence is time.
Time is a very valuable resource that is already receiving lots of external pressure. I have mentally set some priorities and limits on my time. Now fully into retirement (all 6 weeks of it at this writing) I see time has to be managed as much as ever. It can easily be squandered.
I place time management at a high priority, but I will admit not as critical as when working within a large corporation. I like being my own boss again. I am going to enjoy my retirement and not create high pressure critical path time goals. I just need to manage my time and not let it manage me.
An old adage is still true. Practice makes perfect. My new abundance of time allows me to practice my artistic desires. I am far from perfect and consistent practice is the key of improvement, same as an audition at Julliard. A different kind of art, but the path to acceptance is the same.
My goal is to be an accepted artist. I can claim it all I want but it is really something that has to be earned. Practice will get me there. I am getting serious… ;)
I have a new passion that is growing out of my desire to be creating something very unique and artful. It is the making of small bells from silver, brass, bronze, bell metal, whatever works. My desire is to highly detail the bell as well as the decorative handle or top part. There are almost unlimited possibilities. I will be using lost wax as well as machining on my Taig Micro CNC mill and lathe.
The largest bell that I will be able to run on my Taig mill will be two inches in diameter at the wide end. That limitation is created because of the depth that I am able to go inside the bell. I have to allow room between the mill bed and the spindle face for how I hold the bell and the length of the milling bit so I can clear the end of the wax cylinder before I start the internal milling. I have only four inches between the spindle nut and the face of the bottom chuck mounted on the table. Half that distance is the total height of the bell if I have to use an up to two inch long mill.
The fact is that I will be making bells of smaller diameter depending on the ratio of bell diameter and bell height. So with a two inch diameter bell the ration is 1:1 (d:h). That will make a 1:2 ration bell a maximum diameter of one inch. I am thinking most standard looking designs will fall between those two ratios. But then I am not going to limit myself to any standard design. The only limit is that it has to fit on the machine.
There is one other design limitation and that is the wax master has to fit inside one of my casting flasks with enough room for the required investment thickness. There are many sizes of flasks available so it is not a critical design concern with the size masters I can make on the Taig mill.
I am planning for the top part of the bell to be a screw on assembly. That will give me absolute freedom to design whatever I want to finish off the top. The bell bottom becomes the support or base for whatever I design for the handle. That is another whole design area to explore.
The screw on handle also provides a way to design the clapper hanger inside the bell. That can be a machined part like a loop with screw threads. The hole drilled in the top of the bell can be smooth or threaded. I see the design coming together! The clapper can be a turned or a cast part.
I do need to start a design book with graph paper so I can sketch ideas to scale. When I have something I like then I can take it to the CAD and make the actual working drawings. In a few weeks I plan to have an example to show here. This category is sure to grow!