I am still in a bit of shock that one of the things that I thought would be the hardest thing to complete is done and done so well and was a really exciting and moving experience and fitted in with the way my work is formed better than I expected and could have ever imagined.
As I wrote in the last post, I discovered this craftsman through a friend in the village. It was by chance he had a piece of brass the right size as I needed to make the rings from and he brought it to show me the following week. We were then in the workshop two days later.
The rings took a good few hours to make and I was able to witness a lot of the process. It was interesting to know how this all worked as I never realised with metal turning that you had to sometimes make tools for the job too.
The craftsman did both pieces simultaneously, one inside the other and knew from experience how to do each step. There was a couple of times I nearly stepped in and said something but I was always mistaken and he knew exactly what to do. When the rings were turned he questioned his own workmanship, saying how things could have been done differently and asking if it ‘would do’. I on the other hand saw an amazing piece of engineering that was exactly what I wanted. They were not perfect, but that was the thing that I wanted. They had marks that showed the toil and labor that had gone into each piece. As Korn suggests craftsmen are never happy with what they create, but to another what they have done is exactly what they imagined and more.
After the larger ring was finished we discussed how we could drill it so we could hang the piece. We tried thinking of a couple of ways, but then I put my trust in him as our ways of thinking although similar in some respects, allowed a different solution to be thought of and I felt I could let it go somewhat as we were creating this part together. He drilled a small hole in a brass nut and then drilled into the ring (freehand which I would be too scared to do). We tapped out the hole to create the exact screw thread and then screwed in the nut with some special “Lock-Tite” to secure it. It gave the ring a less polished look than I imagined it would be, but it also made me feel that we were part of the same production and he is engrained in the object story as much as the teller.
The smaller ring, whilst it was still under construction I suddenly thought about how I would secure the leather on the underside because of a small cut he had made into the brass. We worked out that we could leave this lip and so it solved a design issue further down the line. Working alongside the craftsman allowed me to be fully immersed in the project in the same way that I would if I was creating.
It wasn’t only the working on the objects, it was meeting his wife and having a cup of tea. Looking at his model engines he’d made and talking about family, careers, connections. Before I left I wanted to ask how much it would cost. He wouldn’t let me pay, saying he only took the job on because it was a challenge to him. He likes to try things that will test his skills. He did give me a job to do in exchange, that will utilise my own skills of research and making, although I will keep this private. I am looking forward to working with him again. We had such a good experience.