I told him that the banjo I was playing was real and if it wasn’t how could I possibly be playing it?
His response was something like “You know what I mean.”
And I did know what he meant. And I was fascinated. And I was a little horrified…
His choice of words, “Can your play a real banjo” implied that an object that is obviously homemade and lacking the slick and shiny look of something manufactured was not actually real to him.
And I don’t think he is alone in these thoughts.
This is a great idea for electronics, machine parts, light bulbs, etc. It is questionable if this rule applies to art and instruments.
Craftsmanship includes an appreciation of precision and perfection yet there is breathing room in the final result for the touches that come as a result of being made by a human being. Materials, especially organic materials like wood, stone and fiber will inherently have subtle or strikingly different characteristics as well.
The subtle variations and imperfections of craftsmanship are what make an item unique. This is, in my opinion, is both positive and desirable.
Please understand that “subtle variations and imperfections” are not to be confused with” major flaws and lousy workmanship.”
So what is a craftsperson to do?
It is my opinion that a craftsperson should create the finest and most satisfying work they can to meet their own standards of excellence.
An occasional item that satisfies the craftsperson’s criteria for excellence may be viewed as slightly defective by someone else.
So it goes.
There will always be people who appreciate the unique qualities of hand work.
For those who don’t there is always a factory willing to make the same item again and again and again.