The Way of Craftsmanship
“Neither talent without instruction, nor instruction without talent can produce the perfect craftsman.”
— Vitruvius, Architect and Engineer
Making a Masterpiece of Your Life is about an ancient quality so easily missed living in today’s world of constant distractions. The ancient quality is the principle of craftsmanship.
Craftsmanship is one of the highest qualities revered by the human spirit since the beginning of recorded time. It is a quality understood by all cultures regardless of language, religious belief or period in time.
Craftsmanship endures long after one has traveled the journey of life. It is immortal. It is a universal value both human and divine which speaks for itself.
Its presence is self evident the moment one comes into contact with it, whether through the superior work of a craftsperson, or the life of one who conducts himself or herself as a true craftsperson.
Craftsmanship is the foundation upon which Making a Masterpiece of Your Life is built. It is intended to teach ourselves and our children to value the ancient and time tested quality of craftsmanship, and to cultivate the spirit of the craftsperson in everything we do to empower our children with the skills to make a masterpiece of their lives.
Craftsmanship can be studied and pursued by itself. One does not need to practice life as a craft to appreciate or apply craftsmanship to any endeavor.
One could also “practice” Life-as-a-Craft and achieve results without ever having knowingly practiced craftsmanship.
However the greatest results will be achieved when you consciously apply the principles of craftsmanship in your practice of the craft of life.
What Is Craftsmanship?
Craftsmanship is an attitude of mind. An attitude of mind which continually strives for perfection. It is the skillful use and control of the tools of the craft and mastery of the materials of the craft while taking care never to abuse either.
Craftsmanship reveals the best of the natural characteristics and charm of each craft and enhances their appeal to the craftsperson and admirer alike.
The point at which craftsmanship becomes “art” might be described as “a moment in time” when the creative spirit of the craftsperson is in complete harmony with the perfection of skillful execution; the result of the craftsperson’s attitude of mind.
This brings full pleasure not only from the creation; the finished work, but also from the process; the manner in which it was done. It is a way of living.
What Is A Craftsperson?
The craftsperson is one who is concerned first and foremost with balance and perfection. The craftsperson is the prime source of those fine things by which life is enriched.
The craftsperson is the guardian of the highest standard of quality. Endurance in both design and function measure the skill of today’s craftsperson as it has in the past.
The “complete” craftsperson is one who is equally skilled in all the elements of their craft. Most are usually advanced in their years, their skill and knowledge firmly rooted in long and broad experience.
Making a Masterpiece of Your Life is the practice of applying craftsmanship to life — “the physical, mental, and spiritual experiences which constitute every Human Being’s existence.”
Making a Masterpiece of Your Life is the “art & science of skillful living through craftsmanship” — the selective application of specific skills achieved through study, observation and practice.
It is a structured, systematic approach to managing your life and the life of your family.
The Practice of Craftsmanship
Once you have committed to the view that life is a learned craft, you must begin the process of becoming a craftsperson by committing to practice craftsmanship in your life and your actions.
To begin, review the definitions and consider the meaning of ‘craftsperson’ and ‘craftsmanship’.
Understand what it is you are committing yourself to. Anchor craftsmanship inside your mind, then open yourself to experience the works of superior craftsmanship.
All the books in the world cannot duplicate the experience of direct contact with the fruits of superior craftsmanship; the works themselves.
Alone, and with friends and family, look at, touch, smell, taste and listen to the works of superior craftsmanship which surround us. Experience them and talk about them together.
Describe what you see and feel the deeper you look at a beautifully crafted automobile, an outstanding motion picture, an intricate piece of jewelry, an inspired performance, or the ultimate masterpiece; a superbly crafted life lived to its fullest and an inspiration to future generations of practitioners.
The principle of this exercise is to become well acquainted with the difference between true craftsmanship and imitation “fake” craftsmanship or worse; mediocre, indifferent workmanship.
This is the foundation of Life-as-a Craft; to know what craftsmanship is, and what it isn’t.
It is the knowledge, the acceptance and the application of craftsmanship which will be the significant determining factor whether or not an individual’s life will be crafted (by him or herself and others,) into a unique, genuine work of art beautifully displayed and cared for, or whether it will be just another assembly line production model — a cheap imitation look alike. Or worse, a rotting shell in the junkyards of life.
The Tao of the Craftsperson — “Pursue Craftsmanship”
Craftsmanship therefore, is not attained by reading these pages. It is attained through action shared with everyone through the tangible evidence of one’s craftwork.
Thus, the essence of the true craftsperson is in the pride of giving to the world “a work which speaks for itself.”
Seek out great works of craftsmanship and there you will find nestled among the curves and the textures, in the aromas, in the colors, and the tones, lessons prepared with painstaking care by great craftspeople, each one worth more than 10,000 words.
It is there in the evidence of their work. The work speaks for itself and reveals the invisible craftsperson. This is The Tao of the Craftsperson. This is Making a Masterpiece of Your Life.