Welcome to our blog - wee articles on beautiful and interesting places in Yorkshire, as well as the wood carvings, artwork and sculpture of Yorkshire artist bod, whose inspiration comes from a deep love for the history, myth and nature of these beautiful islands. Browse and buy his work on our main website: www.justbod.co.uk
‘The Devil Is in the Detail’ – how do we chase him out?
I read a quote recently from the jeweller Alison Jones where she said
‘Every piece is uniquely hand forged with love for the craft of
silversmithing. I am a perfectionist, but my jewellery is hand crafted
and by its very nature not perfect.’
this brilliantly captured both the aspiration that I have of wanting to
create a professionally well-made piece that exudes quality, whilst also
presenting a piece that is obviously, well, handmade.
modern society with its machines and perfectly straight lines has
created a great deal of ‘perfection’ in many of the products we use
today, in terms of ‘pleasing’ symmetry, perfect smoothness, crisp edges
etc. that can lead me in a desperate and doomed chase sometimes to
emulate this ‘perfection.’ Does this mean that I am ultimately trying to
create objects that look like they are ‘machine made?’
our machines get better and better at created faux ‘handmade’ items, is
there, indeed, still a place for the ‘individually created’ product?
can work the other way too; most of us are so used to this level of
precision that we associate it with quality, and cheapness, whereas all
too often the perfection and beauty is only skin deep –manufactured
items created with ‘planned obsolescence’ in mind, or our desire to
follow the latest fashions leading us to devalue and bin objects after a
relatively short period of time.
maybe takes a slight change in perception to once again appreciate
‘handmade’ items, and the time, patience, love and soul that has gone
into their inception and creation. Even the term ‘handmade’ has become
devalued and slightly pejorative.
have heard that the monks who created the Illuminated Manuscripts
deliberately made a mistake on every piece of work because ‘only God is
perfect.’ This leads me to believe (and I can see) that their work was
already of such a high standard that they had to ‘fake’ mistakes.
I digress…..the theme of this post was supposed to be my own personal quest for perfection, an exploration of its pros and cons.
is a story where an apprentice wheelwright asks his master why he takes
so much time smoothing the base of the carts, when no one would know
whether or not the underneath was smooth or not.
‘…but I know’ replies the master.
Is this diligence and conscientiousness or a waste of time and effort?
As with all things, there is a balance, a line, which I’m sure is different for everyone.
the way to a finished piece of mine, there is a trail of ‘failures:’
wood that split, metal that creased, designs that went wrong, grain that
ran in the ‘wrong’ direction, hangers that were ‘ugly.’
However, as one of Justbod’s Inspirational Plaqueshas it: “Quality is not an act, it is a habit” and I am hopefully developing the habit whilst guarding against obsession!
The line I have, my marker, is how I would want the piece to be if I owned it myself.
My best example is the journey towards the ‘perfect hanger’ for my wall plaques:
pet hate of mine, is pictures, wall art, wall plaques etc. hanging at
an angle towards the floor because the hanging device on the back pushes
the top of the picture/plaque out from the wall.
I worked for ages on this, experimenting with a lot of different hangers, and creating lots of ‘firewood.’
a while I created something that achieved the above, and used it on my
first plaques. However, it looked ugly and, although it wouldn’t be seen
by anyone viewing the plaque on the wall, like the master wheelwright,
it still wasn’t good enough for me. Those initial plaques are now in a
‘don’t know what to do with these’ box as I consider them flawed, even
though the quality of the facing sides is as good as any that I have
I now have a ‘perfect’
(for now) system with a ‘saw-tooth’ hanger inset in the back of the
plaque enabling it to hang flush to the wall. It also looks beautiful
(to my eye!) Is this obsessive? I don’t feel so.
some the matter might not matter. For me it does. It is a matter of
pride in my work, regardless of others views, of attending to those tiny
details that I feel make the difference, attending to the practical as
well as the aesthetic.
The Devil is always in the detail. It’s the details that if left unattended, unnoticed, unthought-about can undo anything we are involved in.
approach is equally applicable to every area of life. To attend to the
details, to focus on them and give them adequate thought and attention,
is offering respect to whatever we are focusing on, be it our current
job, a relationship, a DIY job, a walk in the park, the words of the
person talking to us; in short, everything we do.
respect really means offering love. Loving the details, and attending to
them, may just be enough to keep the Devil out.....