For Acts of Creation, award-winning journalist Walt Harrington travels America to explore the nation’s finest hand craftsmen at work, seeking the magical nexus of craft, character, and mastery that gives birth to a functional work of art – and leaves its maker with a sense of satisfaction, awe and achievement known well to artists across the ages.
A builder of monumental fireplaces in Maine. A cabinet maker in Maryland. A millwright in Virginia. A locksmith and a house framer in Ohio. A hardwood floor man in Indiana. A blacksmith in Illinois. A stone carver in California. Not one of these craftsmen believes he is working only to build a house, to renovate a watermill, to build a chair. Each imbues his work with grander purpose — Michael Seward wants the people who buy his furniture to experience an emotional connection; Chuck Crispin wants his clients’ lives to be evoked in his floor designs; Bob Dix believes the history of mankind is played out in the history of locks; Jeff Gammelin wants people to sit before his monumental fireplaces and experience primal memories; Charles Keller wants the highly educated world to appreciate the complicated genius of not only blacksmithing but all fine craftsmen.
The profiles in Acts of Creation help to reclaim the place of craftsmanship in a consumerist era that places higher value on profit and branding then it does on dedicated excellence. It reminds those of us who work at terminals all day of the glory of physical labor done with the hands and guided by the spirit and the heart. These craftsmen offer not only lessons about craftsmanship, but also about life.
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