Work with Your Hands?

I grew up in an environment where everyone worked with their hands.  My father, uncles and grandfathers could work on everything around the house.  Hell, they built the houses that I grew up in.  My mother, aunts and grandmothers could all sew, crochet, cook can and keep the household running.  We never called on a repair service or contractor for anything.  If something broke we fixed it.  If we didn’t know how to fix it, we figured it out.  Consequently, I learned how to do a lot of things.  Carpentry, electrical, plumbing, appliance repair, there is nothing in or around my home that I cannot repair or maintain.  I can even sew if the need be.  As a child I assumed that this is how it is for everyone.  As I grew older I began to realize that this was just not the case.  It was actually a shock when I started to understand that quite a few people didn’t have what I had always considered basic skills.  Now that I’m even (much) older, I see fewer and fewer people with even a very basic understanding of tools and how to work with their hands.

Because I grew up working with my hands my interests naturally tended toward craft.  More pointedly, how was the craft done and what tools are involved?  Drafting, woodworking, rope work and knots and leather working have always been where my interests lay.  Its the process that fascinates me.  To be able to create something of functional beauty from basic raw materials, what could be more rewarding?  Note that I said functional beauty.  Its very important to me that the things that I create serve a function and are actually put to use.  There are people who are driven to create art for art’s sake.  There is nothing wrong with that and has a place in this world.  It’s just not for me.  I get the most satisfaction, not from the making, but in the seeing of my creations being used.  The more use an item I created shows the more beautiful it becomes.  To my eyes at least.

So it saddens me to come into contact with so many people that have not learned to work with their hands.  They are missing out on the satisfying and rewarding feeling that comes from creating and doing for yourself.  That’s one of the reasons I started this blog.  Hopefully, through the internet, people will stumble onto my blog and find something that will inspire them to work with their hands and create something for themselves.  I also hope that this blog will be useful to those who already work with their hands and help to expand their skills or introduce them to new ones.  If my blog does none of these, then it is a failure.  If it helps just one, then its a success.

Greg Merritt

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4 Responses to Work with Your Hands?

  1. John Moore says:

    Well written Greg, I have been enjoying your blog. It encourages us to do more.

  2. John Meaney says:

    I would be of the view art is creation and similar to art, creation for creations sake is waste. Creation needs a function, if I can identify the function then I will create that what needs to be functional. The making is a process which challenges the function which when I achieve that function, it gives me the sense of achievement. When I realize the function worthwhile is when I realize the beauty it holds and that to me is accomplishment and I have created.

    I live and love to create with my hands and can respect all whom do, I have made stuff and thrown if away but I have created stuff aswell…

    I like where your blog is going Greg and apologies if a bit too deep.

    • gman3555 says:

      Thanks John…no apologies needed, I like deep.
      My statement about “art for arts sake” may be a bit broad and tainted by my personal feelings as to what art is. Art should inspire the viewer to be better in what they themselves create. So well done art does have a function.
      Functional beauty is why I think craftspeople in general are so enamored by the tools of their trade. We talk about them, we collect them and we obsess over every detail of them. To a craftsperson, tools represent the epitome of functional beauty.
      I’m glad your enjoying the blog John.

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