Humans creative tool makers?

A couple of programs on TV and discussions on the radio have given me pause for thought recently.They fired my old brain cells up and I wonder what you guys think on this subject. Myself being a textile person I was intrigued with the lead into  a radio program saying....We are going to talk to a professor of surgery who has enlisted the help of textile artists and embroiderers to teach young surgeons about their skills with sewing different fabrics together. The professor told us that while his junior surgeons had abundance of intellectual skills their manual experience and practical skills where often lacking. He said young people on the whole do not have  a childhood making things as much as they used to.      Children of my generation were always making something, from den construction outside, to tiny detailed models of all kinds of things. We organically absorbed how to put things together, my girl's school did two plays per year, so  we built sets and painted scenery with out the tyranny of ..Health and Safety! Sports day, well we set the whole thing up as well as run in the races. So what has this got to do with surgery you may wonder, well the body is made up of many different tissues with different textures and strengths, people who sew, know how you change the technique to connect one kind of fabric to a very different other fabric. Not only that but sewing brand new fabric is  a lot different to sewing vintage older worn fabric. this requires different handling and strengthening.

 I'm often saddened by the weekly regime of children today. So often every moment is filled with some  worthy activity that is organized mostly by adults.They have little time to mess about doing stuff on their own with their peers, being creative ,making mistakes and learning from them, without effort. Absorbing skills that can be used  everywhere later in life.

The TV program is on the BBC at present. A group of craft persons and artists are living in a house together. Each week they are set the task of making something for a room in the house. They are working  to the ideals of ,The Arts and Craft Movement, of the  late Victorian and Edwardian  periods. Whole books have been written  about William Morris and this movement, so hard for me to condense it into a sentence or two. Morris believed that society and art are  inextricably linked. By art he did not just mean fine painting and sculpture but  also fine crafts that came from some basic human instinct to make the things we live with and use everyday, pleasing. He singlehandedly  lifted the status of the true traditional crafts person. He believed that everyone had a right to live in well designed homes and have beautiful things to live with and use.  All this was a reaction to the brutality of the  then new, industrial revolution. Yes we should all love to have handcrafted  stuff but the reality is....time is money.  Most of us cannot afford to completely fill our homes with expert crafted goods. For instance one task for the wood worker in out TV group of crafts people, was to make a well designed spindle chair.The man started with a tree trunk, no power tools and he did produce a beautiful chair in a week of 12 hour days. Cost today? about 1600 pounds sterling, still you have such a chair for a life time.  Anyway Morris was a great designer and you will all be familiar with his wallpaper and textile designs if you know it or not. They are used on mugs, tea towels, cushions to this day.

What this program is saying....I think?      Is that we have to get back to making quality goods that last. My mother had the same vacuum cleaner her entire life, I'm on my 6th. Fridges used to last, now I was told when I bought the last one, it should last 12 years. There is an ad' on TV now telling us we should throw out our mattress when it is 8years old.  They have to start making clothes that last longer, keep their shape because they are well constructed.  Grandfather's tools are still in constant use, you can buy a screw driver and the handle breaks. I can buy needles that rust or break and often bend.  No one wants to mend anything these days.

But hang on.......perhaps we are the fault here, ever wanting new, we are hooked on constant change and fashions. As with any addiction, it only increases. We need faster and faster change over  to make us feel alive and with it? Well everything is telling us we can't keep using resources at this rate, the very stuffs of life we used to think were limitless, we now know are not so.  Already we in our arrogance are looking for another planet to colonize and no doubt waste it too but OK we will find another one?  Can we get back to careful management of the world's resources, can we? 

Here I go again, an other serious blog,  I'm sorry people, I wish I had something lighted hearted to write about but you must admit  everything in the news is pretty depressing. I deliberately actively avoid news some days.  Is the whole world having a nervous breakdown I wonder?  How is it that  everyone is shouting but no one is listening?  I think it would be good....very good, if people got back to doing some work with their hands and being creative again.  When you are being creative you are  activating the right side of the brain and time does not rule there. Time slows and passes without notice, we need this to balance life. We need to teach everyone to exercise their right brain and slow everything down a touch. 

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Published in Senior Chatters


  1. Rockflower Post author

    I’m adding to my own blog LOL……my son in Maine has a 4 year old GE dishwasher that is not working, he has tried to see what is wrong with it but cannot solve the problem himself. So he looks up and finds a repair company that advertise themselves as GE specialists. He speaks to someone there, explains the problem, he is asked for the serial number which he gives, the person on the phone sucks in his breathe ………that model is 5years old he says. I don’t think I want to tackle an ‘older’ model!! Why is that my son asks, he is told getting parts could be a problem and the parts are very expensive, probably cheaper to buy a new machine. This is the major problem we have to make manufactures make things that last longer than 5years. It is not that long ago that appliances in daily domestic use had an expected life of 12 years. Now by some accounts that time has halved. Will it be cut by half again in another 20years time? We need responsible manufacturers, good engineering and pleasing design

  2. waylander

    We live, I regret in the “throw away society”. At least in UK and, from what you say USA, however there are a few glimmers of hope.

    A few years back I was visiting my father in France. His car refused to start and we established it was the starter motor. We removed it and wandered down to the garage in the village to ask them to order a new one.

    The boss there said “Why new? That’ll cost you at least 500 Euros. I can rewind the coil for you for half of that.

    Next day, we wandered back, picked up the repaired item, fitted it to Dad’s car and hey presto. It worked.

    Yes UK and USA are trow away, but France and some other places are not. There is still hope.

  3. Rockflower Post author

    Nice to think this happens somewhere Waylander and we have to get back to this don’t we? We at least grew up when people were more fugal. I remember that bedsheets when getting thin in the middle, were cut down the centre and the outside edges were seamed together to become the middle of the sheet. the cut edges re=hemmed and so prolonging the life of the sheet. If you buy spare parts for anything these days they do cost a lot. If something goes wrong with one burner plate on your cooking range, it is likely you will have to buy a whole control panel for the 4 or 5 burners. We all know that if your printer runs out of ink, it is very likely it is as cheap or cheaper to buy a new printer! I had to pay $135 dollars for what in essence was a plastic box, a replacement for the vegetable box in the refrigerator Crazy!

  4. gardenrobin

    Gosh, it’s good to know that there is a gentle outcry against our throw-away world. But things are slowly changing. One use plastic is on the way out, needle crafts and up-cycling is on the rise. We can all make little changed at home from growing window sill herbs and encouraging our families to value the things they have. We need to value the small things add a story to the items we own and then they will be harder to throw away.

    Anyway three cheers to all the ‘make-do’ers

  5. Rockflower Post author

    I’m with you Garden Robin…………..All of us, we don’t have to change everything at once, just do little things as they present themselves. The fashionable move at present is to become Vegan……I honestly do not think that is the magic answer. Yes I absolutely think everyone needs to eat less meat but they don’t have to go to none. If everyone had two meatless days per week it would make a great difference. I love seeing animals in the fields so I should hate it if there were none…..much as I like cows they make messy pets and need fellow company and space. Pay more for your meat, know where it came from, that it had a life and know where it was slaughtered. As the French say eat only happy animals. We need to grow things and take care of all the insects etc but I know I’m going to find it hard to love the slugs LOL! We all just have to be aware don’t we?

  6. rose1943

    Love shopping at resale stores. Some people think it’s all junk but it’s not. Bought all my lamps from them in the past years. They’re beautiful and well made. Love buying clothes there too. Great brands, little prices.
    I have to say that I always bought my big appliances from Sears, with the Kenmore name. All over 25 years ago and still going strong. They have terrific service on them. I never buy the service contracts, just pay when I need service which I hardly ever do.
    Another good thing. Here, in Chicago, we can donate our unusable to the Salvation Army. You just go online and they come and pick up. What could be better?

  7. richard125

    That is interesting, seems we have a real paradox on our hands. We are building for ourselves a throw away society despite all the press about a need to recycle and reduce energy usage. Part of the issue is that in the UK we have stopped training people to be craftsmen. I served a five year apprenticeship as an engineer, engineers often like to repair things. There is however some hope we have a company called “Frame” if you have household goods you do not want or are damaged maybe not working they will collect. They have a large workshop to refurbish and repair almost anything, the repaired and sometimes reupholstered items are then sold in two shops they own. In addition to the recycling aspects it provides valuable employment in an area which has suffered badly in the recession.

  8. Rockflower Post author

    A glimmer of hope Richard, I hope this idea really catches on. There is the problem that so many things manufactured today are shoddy at their birth. I know of upholstered furniture, where the lush fabrics cover frames stapled or glued. Appliances with enamel so thin you can scrape it with your thumbnail. We first have to demand that manufacturers make goods that are intended to last and be repairable. There have to be spare parts easily found and a reasonable price. Sadly it seems that the international economy is all built on this constant buying of the new.