Monday, 30 January 2012

Duck Egg recently took part in an interview on the handmade v machines...

Why is it important to pass on craft skills to future generations?

At Duck Egg we believe it is important to nurture and promote craft skills. In a multi-media world that expects immediate results, but will not compromise on finish, these are skills that cannot by their nature i.e. small production, not time or sometimes cost productive, survive because there is no need for them. Skills therefore, can in a machine led environment, become devalued and redundant. This could be the recipe for extinction, if we don't ensure to pass down the skills. Craft skills also require learning and can be esoteric to the material being used, so specialist knowledge may mean that only a limited few understand the skill in question, for example thatching.

Which stand the test if time better - hand made or machine made & why?

This is an interesting and a complex question. undoubtably something made by hand has had the time taken on it, we take it as inherent that the material used has been specially selected by the craftsperson and uses their knowledge of the intricacies of the material. For example think of a carpenter, he knows which would will warp and which are less flexible. Machine made-the amss produced, does not bear the mark of the handmade and this is an emotional link to standing the test of time. An oak carved Georgian chest of drawers bears intricate inlay and hand carving, it is unique and you will not find it the same anywhere else. The machine made, however, is created to replicate the same finish every time. We musn't assume that because it is machine made it is poorly finished, this is where the argument for and against because tricky. It made be durable and last as long as its handmade counterpart, but will it retain anything of the spirit of the ethos other than a nod to the zeitgeist, that is the 2012 designers' challenge to marry individuality with the machine. 

Is making craft products economically viable?

For a craft to survive today, the craftsperson must know their market and work within the margins of the market. If a craft product is unique, well made and from ethically/carefully sourced materials it will be economically viable.

Is there a future for craft activity?

There is always a future for craft and that can be seen in the enormous popularity of programmes such as 'Kirstie's Handmade Homes', the resurgence and strength of individual producers at Farmer's Market where not only independent food stockists are but also craft traders. The Recession has impressed upon people that importance of home and a hibernation period where we want to nest and wait out the troublesome times. There is something reassuring and enduring in cross stitch, knitting and a handcrafted approach.

What satisfies you the most about creating your own products?

The sense of achievement at having produced a piece by hand is all important. The knowledge of a personal approach is what our customer's are looking for. our fabrics are rotary printed and in as much we are using machinery for this process, but the designs started out as a sketch in front of a pond and we are not digitally printing our fabrics, so the design is more innate, in our opinion, to the fabric.

What value would you say handmade products have to yourself and the owner?

I believe again this is the personal touch and their is a unique quality to the item. In furniture painting, we distress each item by hand, therefore even if we painted a similar piece of furniture the colours are hand mixed and the produce has been distressed in the areas that suit the piece.

Do we have the skills to survive without machines or are they being lost?

Machines were made to make production, quicker, faster and easier. We cannot doubt their use. However I believe we are all more resourceful, more creative and more productive than we know.

I am a big fan of the 'mouseman' who amongst many wooden pieces, carved pews in Yorkshire, carrying on the medieval practice. Sheltering in beautiful hillside churches amidst a squally downpour on a walk it is possible to see an ancient tradition that has carried on without any interference from the Industrial Revolution. On this note I do fear for the practice of building. the stonemason's who produce our beautiful and breathtaking cathedrals are not in great demand and without this demand these skills will remain with very few. Startling then that the creations of a thousand years ago still stand.  I am also worried that our demand and pressure on the machine led world also increases a wastage in production of energy and material and we have a duty to make sure that we do not waste precious resources, for with mass production is also mass waste.

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