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I Forge Iron

What is Art? What is Craft? What is Craft Art?

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I'd just like to open up a discussion about blacksmithing and how it relates to art. Would you consider every blacksmith an artist? A craftsman? Is anything well made art? What is the role of practicality in artist blacksmithing?
Those are just a few questions I've been thinking about lately, feel free to add some.

Merry being,

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Some say you can't learn an art. Its is a skill that one just discovers and hones with use. People that have a bunch of funny letters after their names such as PHD and MA, etc can explain the difference between art and craft better than I can, but I think they would have an equally difficult time determining if a blacksmith's work is art or craft. I think it is a craft that many (but not all) can put an artistic flavor to. If a smith is primarily making and repairing tools and equipment, I would call it a craft. If he is primarily doing ornamental work it could be called art. On the other hand, being able to make a scroll with out a bending jig and have turn out looking concentric is an art in my book :)

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I would be willing to guess that you will get as many different opinions on this as there are people.;) I have been told I am an artist, well, I tend to think differently. Is it art? Does it serve a usefull function and if so can it still be called art? When I first started out blacksmithing I thought I had a definite idea what 'art' was and was not, now, well....I have read and studied about Samual Yellin and I believe what he did was ART, everything served a function whether it was a gate, railing, or letter box. Same with Francis Whitaker, making everyday pieces not only serve a purpose but be pleasing to the eye. There are tons of men and women today that are following this same path in their work.
Webster defines art as '1. skill aquired by experience, study, or obsevation 2. a branch of learning 3. an occupation requiring knowledge or skill. 4. the conscious use of skill and creative imagination esp. in the production of aesthetic objects.' an artist: '1 one who professes and practices an imaginative art. 2. a skilled performer. 3. one skilled or versed in learned arts. 4. one who is adept at deception.' and craft as: '1. skill in planning, making, or executing. 2. an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill.' and so on.
Sorry about the rant. kinda got away there.

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this is a great subject!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
my interpertation is a craftsman follows blueprints and instructions with a great deal of
detail and integrity. and artist adds flair to projects such as an added scroll or a painted
flower on the side
essentially the artist lends nothing to add any practical value to the product but we all
know how a well placed twist or turn or a well selected color scheme can add to any
project. my opinoin only that and $1.09 and tax depends on where you live will buy a cup of coffee.

as an added note , i always thought snap on tools were desighned by artist/ engineers
for there pratical sense there ergernomics and in my eyes they are beautiful.

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On the other hand, being able to make a scroll with out a bending jig and have turn out looking concentric is an art in my book :)

"an art" is a skill and different from "being art" which is a subjective description of an object. Whether or not something is a piece of "art" or is "artistic" depends solely on the observer's opinion, which goes to that quote about can't please all the people all the time. I have seen "art" displayed in museums, etc, that some people raved about, but to me it was ugly junk and a waste of materials. Good blacksmiths turn out work that is so well done that their "art" (skill) results in "art" (product).
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At this point in my smithing journey I would consider myself an apprentice craftsman who may occassional turn out a piece with some artistic flair but my focus is gaining mastery of the craft. Once enough skill is gained then any artistry should flow out naturally as a component of that skill.

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Like the guy on Forge& Anvil said last night on tv. It don`t realy matter to me what it is , its the generation after this whos going to decidced what to cut and what to keep.
Thats sorta my view on it .
Also read a story about the master craftsmen awhile baCK , not sure where I read it but thats also about this topic

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The following is only my opinion. Gee, I guess it’s like saying what art is!
I have seen where a member posts something like this for his mantra.
“I have just as much fun as if I knew what I was doing”
That is my point of view also. I feel that it is a valid point of view as long as the end product is safe.
Art is when you see something that excites the creative awareness inside of you.
I feel that each individual person defines what is considered "ART" from a personal point of view only!
I believe craftsmanship is skill in action as well as an analysis of function and visual acceptance of an end product.
Craftsmanship will be defined especially by the guy who is paying you to do the job. Then you will know for sure if you should re-consider what your definition of craftsmanship is.
What constitutes Craftsmanship is also a measure (standard) defined by each individual.
Both are defined in the eye (opinion) of the beholder until challenged by others.
When the object you create is kept within your own domain, what you have defined as craftsmanship is dependent on your personal standard and opinion of what your ability is to create an end product.
Once you expose your version of craftsmanship to the measure of other opinions, your measure of craftsmanship standards must then stand the rigors of others with different opinions, physical function, sets of standards set by others, and time.
I feel Craftsmanship may be measured by opinions, skill, quality, time, and standards.
Art is totally an independent measure.
Do not let what I have said be confused with fact. Please remember that it is only my opinion!

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It may have been St Francis who said the following in relation to the very interesting question that has been posed.
"The man who works with his hands is a labourorer, the man who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman and the man who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist"
Well even if it was not St Francis, whoever said it certainly knew what he was talking about.

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"A man who works with his hands is a laborer. A man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman. A man who works with his hands, his brain and his heart is an artist."

By: Louis Nizer
Source: The Great American Bathroom Book, 1992, page 3-A1

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I believe everybody shined a lot of light on the topic.
But Daryl ... that was so simple, and just about to good to be true.
Short, sweet, and to the point.
That is what I am going to tell my iron from now on! ;)
Quote from Daryl;
"In the words of one of my teachers:
THAT is a piece of iron......... I am art."

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