Tapestry of Talents: Bringing Your Whole Voice to Your Craft


Tapestry of Talents: Bringing Your Whole Voice to Your Craft

Exploring the possibilities for us to bring all our diverse interests & skills into the art we create.

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Latest Activity: Sep 1, 2014

The Renaissance Man

Welcome to my new Crafthaus group. In this forum I will explore how artists who also have skills in other disciplines, art related or not, can harness and express our various talents through our chosen professional art form. If you are a painter, actor, musician, philosopher, botanist, or whatever, sharing the same body with the craft-artist in your mirror, you can combine these talents and express them through your work. If the possibilities of this interest you...let's get started.

First, let's define who we are. A "Renaissance man", or polymath, is someone who is proficient at many different skills, usually both arts and sciences. Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Pythagoras, and Ben Franklin to name but a few are great examples. These men set the bar very high because they were gifted, if not genuine genius, and were proficient in science, education, art, philosophy and sociology in their day. Without having to reach that high, I think a lot of artists are "Renaissance people" on a much smaller scale than such historic greats.

I am a silver sculptor, flutemaker & designer, published novelist, airplane pilot, parent/grandparent-guardian(underrated skill if ever there was), and amateur foil fencer. I have a passion for quantum physics and wrote my own theory on the origins of time. I've created web pages, stop-motion animation, edited films, written movie scripts & TV pilots and taught creative writing. I play a few instruments and sing in the shower. In past years I was an elected public official, fund-raised almost a million dollars for a library renovation, ran a presidential candidate’s local office, and fought the waste industry to protect my town. I've traveled the length and breadth of the Milky Way in my imagination and breathed in so much gold dust off my bench that my family will probably have my remains cremated by a refinery. One thing I'm not good at is being a commercial success in my own right (we’ll touch on that in a future post).

I’m sure if you wrote down your varied accomplishments and life experiences you’d have as busy a list as mine. The sum of who you are as an artist is much more than the work you do at your bench. Of course, our art already reflects who we are, but there is much more we can bring to our work. How to sizzle them all up in the same pan will be the challenge I put forward to this group.

I hope you'll join in and contribute to the conversation with your thoughts, ideas, experiences, and suggestions.

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Comment by The Justified Sinner on April 3, 2013 at 4:58am

Yes, re-reading that I see it could be read as critical, which was emphatically not my intention.

I could pick up an épée for a Crafthaus tournament!

Comment by 2Roses on April 3, 2013 at 1:14am

Hmmm!? More fencers in this group than one would suspect. John's weapon of choice is epee, and sabre for Corliss.

Dauvit, do we read a tinge of reprobation in your comment? Perhaps a caution to braggadacio.

While the term "Renaissance Man" is certainly associated with some of the most superlative human beings that have ever walked the earth, John is making no such claim here. Rather, the term is being used in its strict definitive context ie "polymath". The premise is that many of us in the arts are polymaths, or, "Renaissance people", which, by our observation of many of our peers, is true. BTW, we include you in that group . Let the humble disavowing begin  = )

Comment by The Justified Sinner on April 3, 2013 at 12:02am

It is a brave thing indeed to set one's self up as a 'Renaissance Man'! Your comments remind me of the work of the phenomenal UK silversmith/sculptor/jeweller, Kevin Coates: are you familiar with his work? 

I used to fight épée but alas! sciatica put paid to that.

Comment by 2Roses on April 2, 2013 at 9:41am

Good topic, and one related closely to how artistic/creative people "make it" in this world, ie creativity applied in many directions.  Had to chuckle at David's semi-official title ("What's that guy do?) as we are often asked this same question. David, if you haven't heard it, Tom Waits has written a song for all of us, called "What's he doing in there!?". Its from the perspective of the neighbor who doesn't quiet get what you do.

From our perspective, we have always considered ourselves Renaissance people in the sense of practicing multiple disciplines, art and otherwise. Judging by the feedback we get, this is a foreign concept to a lot of people. This always amuses us as they hire us onto various projects, trivializing all other skills other than the ones they want us to employ for them. "How interesting" they will remark, "that someone who does [insert whatever skill set they have hired you for] has a hobby doing [insert whatever other skills you have revealed to them not related to their project]." We just smile and take every opportunity to tell them about all our "hobbies", which invariably leads to additional work. Example: we were just commissioned to make a custom knife for a client we were hired to do computer programming for.

Comment by Ann Thompson on April 2, 2013 at 7:12am

Hi John,

I remember you from Metalheads shows at the Nancy Barrett Gallery.

Recently I've been involved in several fiber art events and teach kinetic art to kids which is science related. I'm very interested in exploring more eco art directions. Thanks for starting this group!

Here is a recent article about me.


Comment by Sandra Murray on April 2, 2013 at 7:07am
Wow! It's very interesting to hear about your life! A man if many talents. :-)

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