Archive for October 2012 | Monthly archive page
From the novel based on his life experiences, “Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts:
“But its most sublime beauty, it seemed to me, was found in the cathedral interiors. There, the limitations of function met the ambitions of art, as the timetable and the timeless commanded equal respect.”
Roberts was describing his observations of the Victoria Terminus train station in what was then known as Bombay, India.
Those of you who follow my musings in articles, TCAA catalogs, and classes, etc., will know that I am constantly exploring the relationship between function and art. We could say the same thing about a saddle…we are somewhat confined by the function of a saddle because its ‘timetable’ has to work or it is simply not usable. But the ‘timelessness’ is the artistic, aesthetic aspect of the work that is woven in a seamless fashion with the usable aspects of the saddle. We tend to separate the two in our day and age. I would make the case that they are inextricably tied together in all great work. They command ‘equal respect’.
By the way, I would recommend this book to all who appreciate a thought-filled, well written, high adventure story. Thanks to my acquaintance Kiril Sokoloff for the gift of this book.
Reflecting on the many conversations with such great craftsmen/artists this past week in Oklahoma City at the annual Cowboy Crossings exhibit and sale, I was reminded of a quote that is credited to James Michener:
“The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his life and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him, he’s always doing both.”
Some might think that it takes tremendous talent, opportunity and effort to achieve this ideal. I would make the case that serving one’s neighbor with enthusiasm and humility is a worthy vocation for all.
This is a 23 inch fender that is 10 1/4″ wide. I use a wider pattern for tall customers so that the fender width looks balanced against the longer length. Most of my customers these days are folks that I don’t have the luxury of meeting face to face to write the order. I rely on the customer for an accurate inseam measurement that I then plug into a formula that allows me to arrive at the correct fender length. This is a formula and procedure that I’ve developed over many years that has been helpful in the process of writing an order for a customer.
This is a common view of my shop. There is some music on the Bose, a couple dogs for company, morning sun streaming in, and a fender to flower carve in front of me. Life is pretty good when you’re blessed with work that is also your therapy. The saddle I am working on here is one for a rancher in Montana. When it came to the decoration, he liked it when I said, “For this price on the floral carving, you’re turning me loose.” Occasionally I have a customer ‘turn me loose’ on a project. That’s a good place to be in your career.