THE WORK OF CRAFT by Carla Needleman
Kirkus Star


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Crafts are a perilous sort of bridge between action and contemplation and nowhere is this more apparent than in the confusion with which we face our results."" Needleman's intense, idiosyncratic, dexterous exploration of the relationship between craft and craftsman is full of insight and revelation. Wary of lazy analogies, she searches out difficult truths with diligence and honesty, considering the craftsman's state of mind (attention, experience) as well as the potential of materials, the vagaries of scale, the nature of results, and related issues. A potter, she objects to use of the phrase ""being centered"" for ""feeling good"" (""It is the point at which the question of form, the question of purpose, can begin"") and explains her preference for working in a room with others: ""The actual possibility of being seen helps me to see."" She also draws on weaving and woodcarving to further her inquiry and reflects on the tolerance of material: ""The craftsman's job is to investigate that tolerance, to stretch the limits of the material, come as close as he can to the edge of ruin and stop there. Then the finished piece will 'sing' like a taut wire."" Inevitably, she probes more elusive subjects--ego, teacher-and-student, spiritual associations, the intrusions of thought: ""Always as we use thought to connect moments of experience we need to remember to keep them separate too."" Ultimately, ""Crafts are about one thing: the secret of how to work."" A bold, free-flowing meditation, potentially a touchstone.

Pub Date: Sept. 6th, 1979
Publisher: Knopf