I've spoken in detail with three different craftsmen from Ontario, Canada in an attempt to abstract an understanding of the essence of craft within today's society.
I started my journey by attending an Aboriginal Pow Wow in Kitchener, Ontario which is where I met Marcel Lebelle, birch bark canoe builder. I was fascinated by his spiritual approach and the way his work embodied the stories of his culture and history. After interviewing Marcel it was clear that his vision on craft is: a crafted artifact has a soul.
The second craftsman I met was Allan Ryan. Situated in the small village of Conestogo, Ontario, Allan has been using his hands to create beautiful crafted artifacts for over 50 years. Allan has all the tools he needs in order to manufacture his work in his own studio from start to finish. His vision on his work is that: a crafted artifact has affordance for human error giving each of his pieces a unique quality.
Finally I met Furniture designer Monder Salih in his woodworking shop in St. Jacobs, Ontario. What struck me first about Monder’s work were the elegant proportions in each piece of his furniture. As I learned about Monder’s process it became clear to me that he valued structure. He uses Japanese hand tools for their incredible accuracy and sustainability. He believes that a piece of furniture should last a lifetime and the way to do that is to make something that is well designed and well built.
As additional footage for this documentary I also visited the Impossible Project Factory in Enschede, The Netherlands where I was given a tour of the factory and conducted an interview with Nico Dikken. I considered including that interview in this film because I saw qualities of craftsmanship even in the factory setting. In the end however, I decided to make it a separate feature because the tone of the piece was much more instructional and didn’t flow with the other craftsmen.
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