[Clayart] automation

Snail Scott claywork at flying-snail.com
Wed Sep 8 22:57:12 UTC 2021

Making something by hand doesn’t intrinsically make it better. Neither does making it mechanically. Making it _better_ makes it better. Some things ought to be made by hand, and gain some merit through either the evidence of the process, or its pragmatic or intangible benefits. And some things should not be made by hand, especially when precision, replication, or economies of scale are important. 

The benefits of handwork to the maker are very real, but they are not shared by the end user, except vicariously. A claim of moral superiority or spiritual connection does not improve either design or quality of execution. Not does efficiency or economy, or perfect duplication.  

A handmade garment is a marvelous thing when done right…perfectly fitted to its end user in form and style, using construction methods that improve the quality, methods which are simply not replicable by machine processes. 

A car is a terrible thing to make by hand! The cost of hand-forming the body panels alone would be astronomical, and some desirable parts (circuit boards? LED’s?) simply cannot be made by hand at all. Without machine assistance, and no part could be replaceable without precision custom machining…(machining! ;) ) 

A badly-designed or badly-made object is not improved by its method of making. Nor devalued thereby. Only the quality of the item matters, and whether or not the means of making contributed to it.

When we demand that the end user appreciate the fact that something is handmade, we assume that this knowledge will add value in their perception. But if they didn’t like it for itself, that demand will mean nothing. Make good work. Make it by the most appropriate means. Take joy in the making, or pride, or sustenance. Or all of these...


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