I read a book recently that made me a bit cranky. Craftsman by Richard Sennet, apart from the view of craftsmanship as being mostly male he also didn't get the concept of mindless crafting. Sometimes mindless crafting is an accompaniment to complex working, but sometimes it's it's own thing. When you're in a crafting slump or something complex is occupying your brain, and not necessarily a crafting project, retreating into the simple is actually comforting. When a lace project is in the slog, why is there no progress stage, a simple dishcloth can be useful, a sense of accomplishment can be made out of that little thing. Without slogging by assistants there isn't time made for a master. But also there is the issue that until you understand your material, you can't really explore it's possibilities. Without scales and warmups your hands will suffer on the piano. Also without understanding both your and the materials issues you can't work with them and through them. I will never play some pieces on the piano that require octave stretches, my hands can't do that, but I can work with it, choose the notes that sound the best, the most right.
But what really ticked me off, as the daughter of a master cabinetmaker and carpenter; sister of a master carpenter; cousin of a master glassworker (not sure of his proper title but he made a glass sword as his masterpiece!) on page 58 when he talked about a chef d'oeuvre éleve I was somewhat annoyed, it didn't convince me that he knew enough about what he was talking about because that's known as a masterpiece or master piece. And maybe if we regarded those pieces made by more crafters as being as important and we saw the beauty in them and the skill it took to make them like we look at paintings maybe we would start to have a better understanding of how there is more artfulnes in the world than we notice. That the present by someone that took more effort than a few minutes in a shop actually has worth, and doesn't deserve derision.
Cross posted to my reading blog