There is no shortcut in the process of coming together between maker and user. In the world of wood artisanship, there is a sense that building by hand somehow puts more of the maker in a piece, and thus, moves him or her closer to the user of the work.
The basic problem with this is what does “hand made” mean? I’ve heard turners who used a high-powered electric lathe and a top of the market sharpening system talk about making their pieces by hand. Even if a person uses a foot driven lathe and sharpening stones, though, it’s still not by hand. It’s just using an earlier technology.
Well, what about the uniqueness of pieces being made by individual artisans? Isn’t there more of the artisan in this? There might be at first in the sense that more time and thought is put in each piece, but, after the work begins to sell, they become sets of processes. In a way, they are mass produced – no matter how small the scale. In the end, avoiding neither the available machine technology nor mass production guarantees more of the maker in the piece.
For the maker and the user to come together, it has always meant a trade where each gives something to the other and each accepts the gift. To the degree this happens, they become one. The maker for his or her part gives skill in design and production. The user gives an openness in his or her home for a new piece of furniture, utensil or objet d’art. The user may ask for the product with a change, the maker may ask for more openness in the case, say, of more financial contribution.
They are moving together with gifts for one another. That is how they can become one.