Sunday, 2 February 2014

The art of making and doing - part 2

Images courtesy of: http://chloewaite.tumblr.com

Images courtesy of: http://chloewaite.tumblr.com
In episode 3 (series 2) of Kevin McCloud's Man Made Home he gathers bits of pipe and cable to melt down in an improvised field furnace to make ridge tiles for the observation tower roof. The tower roof is by far my favourite result of the projects he undertakes in this series... the roof tiles are a thing of beauty and the accompanying narrative resonates with me too:
'You'd think, wouldn't you, that working with scrap and waste would limit what you can achieve but designing the world when you're using recycled stuff, it's no more limited and it's no less rich, in fact it's much more exciting.'

Starting the process of melting the metal he says:
'So then what we've got is really kind of ugly, it's been used, it's been thrown out, it's been discarded, it's waste... and it's grimy and old and pattinated and what we're gonna do is renew it.'

Once the tiles are created they need to beaten into a v-shape to sit on the ridge and of this process he says:
'It's very labour-intensive, it's very sweaty. It's really helpful to do because you understand how difficult it is to make something like this by hand. Wiring, oh yes chuck it away; box of scrap, oh just chuck it away, oh just give it out to the recycling they'll deal with it - you know, which is just chucking it away really.
We've lost touch, completely, with the value of made things.
When you know the story of things, you know, when you know where they've come from, what went in to them, how they were made, then objects take on a completely different meaning and there's a whole wonderful value that you just don't normally associate with made things.
... and this roof, it has a history, it has an amazing story, so that makes this entire roof immensely valuable, immensely powerful...even more beautiful.'

I love this, it speaks to me because I believe it and it is what drives me to do what I do... to be a maker, to work and live slowly where I am connected to the earth that supports me and to tread as lightly on it as I can, always wishing I could tread even more lightly...

But I believe in the value of made things and even though, ultimately we do buy and consume I prefer to buy and consume things of value, things that have a story... that have been made by a maker and not a machine. When we spend more on handmade items we are less likely to throw them away, they are treasured and timeless and valued.