The Journey Into Design

Finding The Materials Limit VS The Limit Of Your Skill As a Craftsperson

Maple Vessel hand turned by Brian BenhamTo elaborate on yesterday’s post about my ceramic artist friend being obsessed with pushing the limits of the clay, trying to see how thin he could go and how far he could push a curve before it all fell apart.

His theory was that if he found the limits of the material, he could design pieces using those limits, and his designs would be on the edge of what was possible.

In his pursuit, he discovered that he could never find the true limits of the material and that his technique and the limits of the material go hand in hand.  As he perfected his technique, he could push the failure point of the material even further.  If nothing is ever perfect, at what point do you say your technique is perfect enough to say that it no longer affects how far you can push the failure point of the material you are working with?   With that realization, he focused more on his technique and how his technique affected the material he was working with.

I made the vessel above from hard maple. If you look closely on the right side, under the lip, just past the shadows, you will see a crack starting to form. Was it a defect in the wood when I started turning it, did I reach the limit of the material, or an imperfection in my technique?

I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.