Recovering the Artisan American

March 23 2016 – Michael Yarbrough

Recovering the Artisan American
Recovering the Artisan American

"Industry has operated against the artisan in favor of the idler, and also in favor of capital and against labor. Any mechanical invention whatsoever has been more harmful to humanity than a century of war." - Remy de Gourmont

Prior to the Industrial Revolution and mass production, people all over the world were artisans, a phrase we rarely use today. An artisan is a skilled craftsman that creates objects by hand with the utmost care and attention to detail. Whether he is a blacksmith, watchmaker, or jeweler, he tends to the work from start to finish. The final product bears his name, and quite often, his reputation.

However, the industrial age, with its production lines and mechanized manufacturing, brought with it the unskilled worker. Rather than one person seeing a product from start to finish, people were simply riveters or inspectors or packagers and so forth, often doing nothing more than aligning an object and pulling a lever. Thankfully, there is a movement to recover the artisanship of old.

Rekindling Handmade American Goods

While progress may be partly to blame for the loss of the bespoke craftsman, it is also to be commended for rekindling a passion for handmade wares. Instagram, for example, has done wonders in allowing the world to see the personal care and touch that an artisan brings to his or her craft. I have had the opportunity to see a number of small businesses grow from a dream to success, and they all have the same element in common: they share the very real moments of their creative world with others. They share their beauty and their mistakes; their accomplishments and failures. We are discovering that we connect with people, not with things, and when we see people, we value the things they create all the more.

Handmade Wooden Rings

I knew before I started Rustic and Main that I wanted to be part of this “American Made”, handcrafted movement. So, when the idea of creating wooden rings from historic and symbolic woods came about, I knew I wanted to do so as the bespoke craftsmen of old. In an age where so much of our day is virtual and digital, the notion of working with my hands was like a calling towards home. Selecting the woods, creating the shavings, wrapping them by hand, sanding and gluing and measuring…it all just feels right.

The result is a product I can be proud of and put my name and reputation on. It feels good to be an artisan.