I have had a few curious conversations about technique of late and I can’t fathom where this has come from. There seams to be this underlying current of almost an elitism about technique and skill; that some kind of purism has crept into our craft. What am I talking about? That some techniques are viewed as cheating.
Is it cheating if I glue something onto a piece? Is it cheating if I use a pattern instead of free hand? Is it wrong if I stitch up a hole – one that I didn’t intend to create? How about if I cut some superfluous bit off? What if I sewed a prefelt down? This isn’t to say that we should approve of slapdash methods (anyone who comes to Toss n Tell knows of my soapbox tirades about shrinkage and we have discussed much about quality) but I don’t think that using alternative techniques is wrong. As long as they are well executed.
Lets have a look at some basic definitions. Felt making is a craft, so lets start with that, according to one of the many online dictionaries the definition of craft is: Skill in doing or making something, as in the arts; proficiency. An occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or skilled artistry.
Next the definition of skill: Proficiency, facility, or dexterity that is acquired or developed through training or experience. An art, trade, or technique, particularly one requiring use of the hands or body.
The highlights for me in these words are proficiency through training or experience. It doesn’t say anyway that I can’t glue, stitch, chop, fold, bend or mend my felt. Maybe if we were willing to include other skills and techniques into our felt we could eliminate the BOYDs (Bring Out Your Deads) in our studios.