So I’ve been on the road for almost a month now meeting with various craftsman in the artisan fiber mill network that I’m associated with. While I miss my family intensely, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time together at each place I have visited. While I’ve been visiting these places, I’ve mainly wanted to come and see what they were doing, identify what they were wanting to become as a person, understand the model of the business they were trying to run, comprehend their insight into the creative process, and see the kinds of products they are able to make.
I was hoping to learn how I can best help them:
- understand their craft,
- hone their skills,
- create a dynamic team of craftsman,
- refine their business plan to focus on their highest level of contribution,
I wanted them to know that The Master Crafted is here to help them succeed and awaken them to what is essential to mastery. While I’ll be honest, I don’t ever feel like I personally reached the level of a master craftsman in what I now call artisan textiles, it always was and will be my aim.
In our culture today there is a great need for cultivating craftsmanship and awakening aspiration for the creation of high-quality works and services that bless others. There is a great joy to be unearthed in applying our head, heart, and hands to a particular domain and field. For many who have ventured into the world of craftsmanship, I have found that they too have experienced an alarming level of frustration in developing a roadmap to good quality and service. Most in the domain of textiles who reside in the field of artisan mills have had little mentoring and training and have deferred to enrollment in the “school of hard knocks”, each day scaling the steep learning curve of craftsmanship by themselves. This is a very daunting task, and in many ways becomes a thankless one. If a well constructed bridge is not created to leave this land of frustration and enjoy the fertile land of skilled master craftsmanship on the other side, the industry will be stunted at best and short lived at worst.
For those who have been doing it for 5+ years, you deserve our utmost respect. You are typically making very little money yourselves, have failed almost as much as you have succeeded and are continuing to humbly serve your customers the best way you know how. While I knew this to be true in our 13-year experience of running a mini-mill – where each year got better than the last but each year was in its own right still a struggle, I was hoping that I would find the experience of others to be different, or at least easier than our own.
But unfortunately, that was not the case, and often it was worse.
The gravity of seeing this in person, while certainly unsettling, has been reassuring to me that this new business endeavor of awakening the craftsman to what is essential is a noble thing, both good and right. Those of us who were pioneers in this industry have to take what we’ve learned over the past two decades and distill it down and make it explicit to those who are following in our wake. By doing this, they can glean from our experiences, and use them to surpass us and forge an even brighter future for this craft/studio/artisan textile industry in the future.
Now that I’ve been able to clearly see this struggle in action and have been able to assess and clarify what are the “thorns” that have been frustrating the craftsman in their quest for honing their skills and shaping their business, I can now return home to the office and get to work. My next phase in this endeavor will be the initial design work for crafting tools and resources that will come alongside these artisan businesses and allow them to experience the joy of doing their work with a high level of quality and service with an ever lower level of frustration and disappointment.
In this next phase of developing our business it will be important for me to take what I saw and bring that to the Master Craftsman and ask him questions and receive instruction from him. There’s much to learn regarding the art of craftsmanship and the forging of good business practices that glorify him and create joy for all peoples involved.
I’m asking God to:
- show us how aspiring craftsman can cultivate a high level of commitment to quality and service that is a huge blessing to themselves and their customers for generations to come.
- show us the great history of craftsmanship, all the way back to when time began and he birthed his great creative work.
- teach us his ways, and cause us to understand his process of craftsmanship and creating things by design, not by default.
- help us to become great at teaching and training others in the art of textile craft and the purpose and design of the tools that we currently have access to.
- and lastly, to give us insight for the tools that we don’t yet have but need, and how they can be created for an even a higher level of art and craft to be revealed.
This for me has become my highest level of contribution, a true and proper act of spiritual worship as I see it. There is great potential for this to be a huge blessing to all who are involved in the art of textiles from the stewardship of animals all the way through to the final crafting of garments that people will cherish for generations. Lord willing, I will be able to dedicate myself fully in loving, sacrificial service to this work and steward it in such a way that not only will glorify God, but all people will benefit and prosper by what I am able to create.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
– The apostle Paul in Romans chapter 12 verses 1 and 2
I take much comfort from these words of Paul, a craftsman in his own right in the field of tentmaking. He lived his life well for the time that he was given on the earth. I ask no more of myself but simply to complete the work that God has given me to do with the time that he has given.
His servant for your blessing,