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In our present age of computer-assisted design, mass production and machine precision, the traditional skills of the maker or craftsperson are hard to find. Yet the desire for well-made and beautiful objects from the hands (and mind) of a skilled artisan is just as present today as it ever has been. Whether the medium they work with is wood, metal, clay or something else, traditional makers are living links to the rich vein of knowledge and skills that defines our common human heritage. More than this, though, many of us harbor a deep and secret yearning to produce something – to build or shape, to imagine and create our own objects that are imbued not only with beauty and functionality, but with a story and, in essence, a spirit drawn from us.
Nick Kary understands this yearning. For nearly four decades he has worked on commission to make fine, distinctive furniture and cabinets from wood, most of it sourced near his home, in the counties of South West England. During this time, he has been both a teacher and a student; one who is fascinated with the philosophy and practice of craft work of all kinds.
In Material, Kary takes readers along with him to visit some of the places where modern artisans are preserving, and in some cases passing on, the old craft skills. His vivid descriptions and eye for detail make this book a rich and delightful read, and the natural and cultural history he imparts along the way provides an important context for understanding our own past and the roots of our industrial society.
Personal, engaging, and filled with memorable people, landscapes and scenes, Material is a rich celebration of what it means to imagine and create, which in the end is the essence of being human, and native to a place. As Kary puts it, “Wood and words, trees and people, material and ethereal – it is here I love increasingly to dwell.”
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