"Turning Wood into Art"

"Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink,
and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor...."
-Ecclesiastes 2, 24

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Is it Good Enough to Sell?

When I sell one of my woodturnings, I sell more than a piece of wood - however attractive or well crafted it might be.  When that work goes out my, or one of my gallerys', doors - or leaves my display tent, parts of me go with it.  The intellectual, emotional and perhaps skill that went into its creation.  

At the same time, I find myself asking the same questions over and over.  Did I pick the best wood?  The best finish? Did I craft the piece to the best of my ability?  How could I have improved it?  Those are the technical questions.

The more difficult questions have to do with: "Did the work truly express what I was trying to communicate at the time?  How will I do better next time?  Sometimes the answers come at 3:00AM.  And sometimes it takes a bit longer.

I guess my colleague, Cindy Drozda says it best when she asks, "What is my favorite work?  My last one.  Which is my best work?  My next one."  The Japanese call it "Kai zen" - gradual, incremental improvement.  So I believe the driving force behind fine art and fine craft is bilateral: dissatisfaction paired with yearning for improvement.

But to answer the question: "Is it good enough to sell?"  I believe this: if I'm happy to sell a work - or am neutral about it - the answer's "no."  And that piece goes in the scrap bin. On the other hand, if it hurts me - to the bottom of my soul - to put a work up for sale, it's probably good enough.

At least I hope so.

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