Manifesto for Making: Report

Submitted by: Vivian Orr, SCC Marketing and Communications Coordinator

Manifesto for Making: Report
23 March 2013
The Manifesto for Making was held as a part of the Heritage Crafts Associations’ annual Spring Conference at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London on 23 March 2013. The report is worthy of interest from us on the other side of the pond.
The first line of the forward to the report:
 If there is a key message I take from this manifesto it is that craft is central to life not a sideline, making is a crucial part of what makes us human.
 ~Robin Wood, Chair of the HCA
Conference delegates were asked three questions. Here is a brief summary of their responses.
1.       Why is making important? The responses indicated that making is important not only to the maker, but to everyone as human beings. There was a lot of emphasis on the importance of making on an emotional and personal level, with particular reference to fulfilment and satisfaction, and to the opportunity to express creativity.
2.       Where should making be? The responses indicated that making needs to be much more visible and prominent and should be physically everywhere. There was a particular emphasis on craft in education at all levels, as a way of giving people access to making.
3.       How do we get there? The dominant responses reflected non-makers. They indicated that publicity and promotions are vital to get making to where it should be – in the public consciousness. Another set of responses were maker specific and focused on the need for practical support for makers: marketing assistance, training, business and financial support.

A Sociological Point of View

Submitted by: Sydney Luther, Gallery Assistant

As a Sociology student and non-artist working at the Saskatchewan Craft Council, I think I have a unique view of the artist and their work. I admire the courage it takes to choose to be an artist for a living and I have developed an understanding of the value of the unique work produced by our membership.

Photo source
Anyone who has taken an “Introduction to Sociology” course knows about Karl Marx’s theory of alienation. If you haven’t, or you need a refresher, here is a summary: Marx theorized that Capitalism creates alienation between the worker and the products he or she is hired to produce. 

In Capitalism, the lowest working class citizens are employed as factory workers and in other production-line type positions. For example, imagine a job in which one’s only responsibility is to place toothpaste caps on toothpaste tubes as they roll down a conveyor belt, day in and day out. These types of positions do not allow the worker to have a voice in what they are producing and have no impact on what later happens to these products. 

Consider the Line Cook: he has no say in what kind of food is prepared, he just knows which ingredients to put together to create the exact same dish every time. The Head Chef designs the dishes, and the Line Cook simply follows instructions. Obviously this Line Cook is not going to stay very excited about food, when he’s creating the exact same dishes every single day for weeks or months on end. Marx labeled this lack of passion for the products the worker is creating as alienation from the product. This leads to alienation from the act of producing – which is basically a lack of passion for one’s job. If a person has no part in designing the product they create, and no influence on what happens after they do their part, of course they are not going to gain any happiness from their job!

As I was sitting in class learning about Marx, my professor asked us how one can avoid such alienation from one’s job and the product one creates. This sparked an obvious answer within me: become an artist! The artist is someone who rejects the basic ideas of capitalism. An artist designs whatever he or she wishes to create, and then follows through with the creation process. An artist never creates the same piece twice and, as I've seen from the members of the Craft Council, can choose to create a vast array of different types of products in different mediums. The artist then has the power to choose what happens to his or her products. He or she sets the price and decides to who they will sell. This type of power in the process of production avoids the capitalistic alienation of which Marx warned.
I write all of this just to say that although the life of an artist may not be a wealthy one, and it may not be the easiest road to choose, I truly believe it can lead to happiness. If you were meant to create, then you should be creating in any way you know how!
For more information about Marx’s theory of alienation, check out the Wikipedia page on the subject here 

The book in which Marx presents his theory of alienation
photo source

Relief and Intaglio Printmaking: Spotlight on Paul Lapointe

Submitted by: Maia Stark, Gallery Assistant

Printmaking is chosen as a form not only for its ability to create multiples, as discussed in my last blog post, but also for the unique qualities that various printmaking techniques offer. Paul Lapointe, a professional craftsperson with the Saskatchewan Craft council, employs many printmaking techniques in his repertoire as a multi-media artist. In particular, Lapointe works with woodblock printing and drypoint etching.

A selection of carving tools, available from Lee Valley Tools

Woodblock printing is known as “relief” printmaking. In this process one would, using carving tools such as the ones pictured above, carve out sections on the woodblock according to a pre-planned design. These areas which are carved will not pick up ink, and so the “relief”—or highest point on the block—is what will be printed. When running a roller of ink over top of the board, the carved out areas will remain white. This process can be thought of as the opposite of drawing with a marker- what you touch will not be printed, what is left behind will pick up ink. Woodblock prints can be monochromatic, or, “one-colour:” this means that the printmaker would have only printed one layer of ink (e.g, a black and white woodcut, where the “white” is the paper). Woodblock prints can also be multi-colour however; so that after printing a first layer, the printmaker would go back to the woodcut, carve more wood away, and print another colour over top of that first layer. This is called “reductive” printmaking, and works from lightest to darkest- the very last un-carved areas left on the block will be printed in the darkest ink as the layers of colour build up.
Relief printing: A represents the block, B is the paper lifting the ink away from the block. (Wiki commons)

Harbinger by Paul Lapointe, Woodcut on paper

Dry point etching, in contrast, is known as an “Intaglio” printmaking technique. This process can be considered the opposite of relief printmaking; the ‘carved’ areas are the parts which will pick up ink, as if one was to naturally draw with a pencil. Drypoint etching is accomplished through scratching or “etching” into a metal plate (traditionally copper) with a sharp pointed instrument. Then, the plate is inked up. Instead of printing the plate as is, however, like you would with the woodblock, the ink is pushed into the etching, usually by dragging a piece of cardstock in all directions on the plate. Then a piece of tarleton cloth is used to clean and pick up the extra ink sitting on top of the plate. The ink should be in the plate, not on the plate, for this technique. Then the plate is run through the printing press with slightly damp paper (which will pick up the ink better than dry paper).  
 a diagram depicting how paper lifts the ink out of the depressions in Intaglio printmaking (Wiki commons)

Mackenzie Bee by Paul Lapointe, drypoint on paper with chine-collĂ©

While woodcut prints have a graphic, sharp edged feel, drypoint etchings tend to have a soft look to them. This is primarily due to the “burr”: a rough ridge of metal thrown up on each side of the line created by the etching tool. The result is a soft and dark image with great potential for detail and intricacy. The different strengths in these techniques are portrayed well by Lapointe’s work, which is often themed around nature and its forces, animals, and landscapes.  Having grown up in Northern Saskatchewan, Lapointe’s earliest influences were that of the natural world (SCC Membership Directory).Two great examples of these techniques are Lapointe’s pieces Dancing Raven and Muskeg Spruce, both pieces on view now at the SCC Boutique!

For great resources on printmaking techniques and ideas, check out the following resources:

The Craft Factor - The Many Faces of Michael Hosaluk

Volume 18, Number 1 Summer 1993

The current show on display at the Affinity Gallery is "Put a Wedge in It" - an exhibition of new work by artist, craftsperson, designer and maker Michael Hosaluk and invited friends. Using the wedge as their theme for discovery, the group of collaborators have created a range of fascinating and diverse works.

Hosaluk: Expedition (Wedge Heads)
Photo: Vivian Orr
Michael is a longtime member of the SCC and his exhibitions have graced the gallery over the years. In 1993, his show "Faces/Places" was in the gallery, and today we will take a look at the article "The Many Faces of Michael Hosaluk" written by Alicia Popoff about that show.

The article discusses Michael's style and analyzes a number of the pieces.

Read the fulll article here

"Put a Wedge in It" can be viewed in the Affinity Gallery until February 22, 2014.  Learn more about the show here