12 June 2013

Creation, part two: glue and gravy are the same thing, but no one tells you that.

Part One - I spent over a year figuring this out. It's where I've been.

I like to make stuff.

I like to be around things knowing I'm the reason they exist. I like to take something from raw materials to finished product.

When you make something yourself, it becomes more real:
  •  Food is lovely all the time, but that meal means more if you cook it from scratch than if you buy it at the store and later pull it out of the freezer and microwave it.
  • Tomatoes are delicious, but that tomato is even more awesome if you just picked it from a tomato plant in your garden.
  • Music is beautiful, but music that you make at home on your own piano or guitar or set of kitchen pots is even more beautiful.
You know what I'm talking about. Even if what you created is less ascetically pleasing than other options, even if it is sub par; not as tasty, kind of wonky, burnt on the bottom, slightly out of rhythm; it's better. It's yours. It's a creation that is authentic to you and your place in life.

I've been lucky enough to find a group of people who feel largely the same way. Creators, artists, artisans. People who like to work with their hands and with their minds to make things happen. In the past year I've learned a lot on accident; shading is for the low points of something, highlighting for the high points, I have the color wheel memorized now, and I can tell you far more about purfling and f-holes and rib structures than I ever thought I'd want to know.

It's nice to have friends who'll listen to you talk about leather grain and binding techniques without rolling their eyes, and who will huddle with you in whispered plans about how if we could only find a way to realistically afford copper tubing we could make the most badass moonshine still, and we should merge our cult of happiness and cult of niceness and be kind of like the fight club.

I've learned a lot on purpose too, and through my discussions and experiences and studies I've learned one overarching thing: quality.

When things are cheaply mass produced, they're put together as efficiently as possible. Metal and plastic are melted, colored, molded, painted, permanently affixed to each other with chemical bonders that even once they soon break and become useless last forever.

Quality things don't last forever. Quality is made from real ingredients, metal, wood, stone, glass, vegetation, that are constructed well enough that they'll keep together in working order for a really long goddamn time. And when they die, you can fix them. Because their parts are made from things that don't run out. And when you don't want to fix them any more, they'll return to the raw materials from which they were made.

I've learned that artisan violin makers use hide glue on their wood. It's made from animal pieces, and it smells really weird. It's water soluble. If they mess up they can wash off the glue and try again. When the violin is done being a violin, it can return peacefully to the earth without leaving a footprint. Artisan book binders use flour paste. If they make a mistake they can wash the glue off the pages, reglue them, re-press them. If a binding breaks, it can be redone. When the book is done being a book, it biodegrades. Because everything in it comes from a plant or an animal.

Quality doesn't leave a footprint. Quality is sustainable, renewable, lasts a long time and is all-natural.

But quality costs. It costs a lot of love. And when you try to exchange love for money, quality gets confusing.

To be continued . . .

Irene

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