The way we make things is very important to us. We strive for beauty and functionality in everything we craft, and we long for a return to beauty in the things we use everyday. Following are thoughts on arts and crafts that i simply couldn't have stated more clearly, so i'll echo th' words of th' late Soetsu Yanagi as translated by Bernard Leach, from the book The Unknown Craftsman.
I wish that everyone would realize that until recently beauty in things was commonplace, and that it is our responsibility to demand that of the future.
The difference between former times and ours is that the individual remained unobtrusive until recently. All once used the same patterns without any question of jealousy. The separation of picture and pattern, arts and crafts, is one of the tragedies or modern times.
Crafts are of and for the great mass of people and are made in great quantity for daily life.
What is the power at work in good pattern? Pattern is a product of man's skill, the true mission of which is to turn to use the laws of nature. Thus, while pattern is in a sense an artificial product, it is not so much man made as a technique for reducing nature to something more "natural" still. It is not a vaunting of man's humanity, but a hymn to nature's mysterious power. In a good pattern, man is faithful to laws; one detects in it a true humility. It is good to the extent that it is free of any arrogance of personality. A very strange consequence of obedience to these laws is the increased freedom that then results. The acceptance of limits produces ease of mind.
Usefulness, material, and technique, if given their due values, automatically give us calm and friendly beauty in the crafts we use from day to day. By and large, good pattern is of communal parentage. The more so the better, and the further the disciplines of nature are accepted the better the results will be. I cannot lay sufficient stress on this last behest, for our undertaking as craftsmen is to act as humble and loyal agents of the divine will inherent in nature.
Work without innate beauty is dead work; that is why the artist-craftsman is important to us. The great need of our time is for the artist-craftsman not only to produce his own good work but also to ally himself closely with the artisan, so that eventually we may have beauty in common things again.
The Facts have to be faced concerning the future of craftsmanship anywhere within an industrial civilization...Before the age of science and modern industry, crafts used to spring out of the hearts and hands of man.
The nature of machine work is such that it's products are standardized and thus monotonous and cold; ill fitted to serve as man's companions in his daily life.
The profit making motive became uppermost, and the change from the age of the hand to the age of the machine took place; the two together have had a disastrous effect not only on the crafts, but also on the way of natural life in which they had their roots.
As we all know, America is the home of the machine; there has never been much handwork there since the beginning of it's modern history.
I would like to believe that beauty is of deep import to our modern age. Without question, the intention of morality, philosophy, and religious belief is to bring hope, joy, peace, and freedom to mankind. But in our time religion has lost it's grip. Intellectualism has undermined spiritual aspiration in most people. At this juncture I would put the question, might not beauty, and the love of the beautiful, perhaps bring peace and harmony? Could it not carry us forward to new concepts of life's meaning? Would it not establish a fresh concept of culture? Would it not be a dove of peace between the various cultures of mankind?
...the good artist or craftsman has no personal pride because in his soul he knows that any prowess he shows is evidence of that Other Power. "Take heed of the humble, be what you are by birthright; there is no room for arrogance."
I felt a general lack of maturity both in motivation and technique. The first impression given was one of power, or force, but it was followed by a sensation of violence and at the same time of emptiness. On the whole, the Japanese exhibits had a greater traditional content and were more skillful in technique, but were less alive than the pots from the West. Shells without fish. The abstract examples were mannered, and did not spring from a genuine internal life. In the whole exhibition the pots that i admired most were made by Bernard Leach.... Curiously, these were the quietest pots in the whole show....The feeling in his pots comes from a high inspiration that defeats both weakened traditions and the violence of modern motivation i have mentioned. He draws his strength from the soil of his own nature and his life experience. This is spring water. ~Shoji Hamada
In a sense, an age without good patterns is an age that does not look at nature carefully.