The Aesthetics SIG met on Friday, February 14th. We discussed the meaning of Craftsman and Artist and if there was a difference. I think we concluded there is a difference but maybe of no significance. We recognized that an Artist must also be a Craftsman. Some of the differences at this fuzzy boundary between Craftsman and Artists are utilization of serendipity and trial and error and playing with ideas. A fine Craftsman is indistinguishable from an Artist; but the two vague terms are still useful.

With some concepts of these value terms, we then discussed the following questions:

1. How do you evaluate the quality of woodworking education?

2. How do you improve your quality of woodworking?

We concluded that the answer to these questions partly involves consideration of who you define as your audience, which can include yourself. Some say that for an artist, the artist is the most important and critical audience to answer these questions. Therefore, if the woodworking education gets you to the level you want to attain, then the education is good. Similarly, if the quality of your woodworking is at the level that your audience (you the maker) desires; then it is sufficient. Some woodworkers want to attain another level where other knowledgeable woodworkers admire the quality of education and craftsmanship and/or artisanship.

Therefore, as with many things, there is neither simple nor agreed upon answer to any of these questions. It is my impression that the group adjourned with the feeling that useful and stimulating ideas were exchanged. Maybe we all learned something.

It was agreed that constructive critiques were a useful tool to improving the quality of woodworking. We decided that the Aesthetics SIG would be a place for all Woodchucks who desired critiques to bring things for discussion about how to improve the quality of their work. If you do not want a critique but would like to listen in on the discussion, your participation is welcome. The goal is to learn from discussion.

For our next meetings, we will be discussing the book "By Hand & Eye". The book can be purchased on line at the URL below.

The book costs $16 for a PDF file or $35 plus shipping for a hardback. You can pay with a credit card or PayPal. You will be able to download the PDF almost immediately. I found that after the PDF was fully visible on my Internet Explorer and it indicated was completely downloaded, it took several minutes before I could save the file to my computer. So be patient. If you point at the page of the file on your Internet Explorer, a toolbar will pop up at the bottom that allows you to save the file.