Krenov - On Amateurism and Other Things

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On Amateurism
MR. FITZGERALD: I read that you began making furniture professionally in 1960. Is that correct?
MR. KRENOV: I've never made furniture professionally.
MR. FITZGERALD: Well, that you sold furniture.
MR. KRENOV: Yes. Well, I'm an amateur and I always will be. That's the way I want to die. I'm an amateur by nature and I'm an amateur in fact. And David Pye wrote somewhere that the best work of this century would certainly be done by amateurs.
On Making A Living At WoodDorking
MR. FITZGERALD: What did you advise them? When you were advising the students on how to make a living at this, what would you tell them? How to sell - how would they sell their furniture?
MR. KRENOV: Well, my standard formula was the better work you do, the more chance that you'll starve.
On What The Best Wood Is
MR. FITZGERALD: What's your favorite wood?
MR. KRENOV: Oh, I have no favorite wood. If it's real nice, it could be anything really.
MR. FITZGERALD: You fit the wood to match the job, or do you select the wood first?
MR. KRENOV: They grow together. Everything grows together.
MR. FITZGERALD: What kind of -
MR. KRENOV: You close your eyes and you think, well, if the table's all black that's no good. And if it's all white, like maple or something, that's no good. What else have we got? We've got mahogany, we've got oak, we've got this and that and the other thing. Search and hope and find something that finally commits you to feel, well, yes, it would look nice - the chair would look nice in this wood, and it would work well. It glues well, and the pieces I have are dry and fine. Yes, I think I'll do it that way.
On The Best Finish
MR. FITZGERALD: What kind of finish do you like to put on it?
MR. KRENOV: As little as possible. Polish sometimes.
On Tage Frid
MR. FITZGERALD: Did you know Tage Frid?
MR. KRENOV: Oh, I tried to play tennis with him up in Aspen, but he wasn't sober, so it didn't turn out very well. No, I didn't know him. I didn't know him.
Read the whole thing at:
http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/oralhistories/transcripts/krenov04.htm
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Fantastic!
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Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
- Mark Twain.
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Dave Balderstone wrote:

Huh. Krenov's a heck of a woodworker, but I found his interview to be annoying, like he was trying to be cute or something. Affected, maybe. False humility? I don't know.
JP
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Really? I had just the opposite impression, that he was just being open and honest about what he does, why he does it, who he is and where he came from.
He was certainly disparaging of some schoools and guilds, and of some common attitudes, but I think he's earned the ability to make those comments.
Still, some like/love his work, some dislike/are neutral to it. I like his work, and found the interview gave me some insight into the person behind it.
It's possible, of course, that if I heard the interview rather than simply reading a transcript, I'd hear what you read, but it didn't come through the printed word for me.
djb
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"Dave Balderstone" wrote in message

"That vase is so goddamn ugly it's has to be art".
... ya gotta love the depth of honesty, and the nuances of his bullshit detector, in that statement alone.
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When I read that I thought of one of my favorites (but I can't recall where I read it, years ago)...
"I may not know what I like, but I know art."
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Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
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"I may not know much about art, but I know what I like."
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Lobby Dosser wrote:

I thought it was Andy Warhol, (who's "art" I dislike) but all the attributions point elsewhere.
er
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Might have been W.C. Fields.
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Dave Balderstone wrote:

I agree. I read that interview two times and more when I first found it. I was happy that there is someone with the stature to say what age gave him the wisdom to say. It was for a cultural quasi-governmental archive--maybe that's why it saw the light of day.
I surmise he's taking a poke at what Pritam & Eames has become.
er
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When I look at their web site, there's little there that makes me think I'd like to run my hands over the piece.
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Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
- Mark Twain.
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On Tue, 21 Feb 2006 20:05:36 -0600, Dave Balderstone

I don't necessarily care for the style of his work, but I certainly appreciate the craftsmanship and his approach to his work. I think one can take away something from any expert, even if the particular design styles employed by that expert don't resonate with your own style preferences.

+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+ If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
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Dave Balderstone wrote:

Hmmm...now I'm going to have to go back and read the entire transcript through. I bounced around a bit, and it seemed like he was being a bit obtuse at times.

Yes, he's definitely entitled to his opinion, and those that don't mince words are unusual in this day and age. Without digressing into a philosophical discussion of how people should communicate, I'll just say that I'm starting to appreciate folks that simply say "I don't like it" when they don't like something - rather than a whiny sort of "well, it's not really my taste but...."
Uh-oh...I feel a digression coming on. Say I'm installing some molding for a GC and (hypothetically, of course) he doesn't like that I haven't fully set the nails below the surface for the putty/paint guys. Rather than him getting all disappointed in me and saying he really wishes those nails were set cuz it creates problems for the painters and do I think, maybe, I could try and set "most" of them - I'd much rather him say "Hey - I want those nails set properly." It's quick, effective and lets me know in no uncertain terms what he expects. A "thanks" when he leaves and I'm back to work, with no hard feelings. There's just not enough of that these days.
That's all.
JP
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Jay Pique wrote:

Can't agree more. Today's crap is political correctness and all about making sure you always use positive ways of communicating. Starting any sentences by : "I don't... or I'm not..." must be prohibited because of the possibilities of offending someone somewhere who wouldn't have all the intellectual abilities to handle such devastating comments that may end up destroying their self-esteem.
I never bought that crap and never will. Maybe it will go away one day when we realize it didn't improve anything.
Cyberben
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After reading the entire transcript of the interview I think I'll just let things lie as they stand. To each his own.
JP
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If you are looking for a bunch of dumb answers then here they are ......mjh
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mike hide wrote:

Does seem to demonstrate that different people operate on different wavelengths. To me as well, some of the answers above are a little goofy. Then again to others they strike a chord.
Those that are on the wavelength of this Mr Krenov may see some others as uninspired clods. Some of those uninspired clods may see some of those on Mr Krenov's wavelength as a bit artsy or even slightly nutty. It's all good though... diversity is a wonderful thing and there's room enough for everyone.
Joe Barta
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Joe Barta wrote:

Your post just showed after I clicked send for mine. I agree with you, though - everyone is their own person, and what's best (for me) is to try and embrace the good in them. Of course it's sometimes difficult, if not impossible, with some folk.
JP
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Yes indeed - well said. I found it goofy and marvellous - struck both chords with me. I find I look at a piece of wood and try to feel what it would be best used for, and also find myself wishing I had the skill required ti mak eit so, but - I understood what he was saying. Particulatly the bit about the better you make something the more likely you are to starve - if you are trying to make a profession out of that work.
Mike Richardson (Deliberately top-posted - not to annoy.)

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On Wed, 22 Feb 2006 02:49:23 GMT, "Mike Richardson"

It happened just this weekend. I was making a couple of bluebird houses and grabbed some cedar I had lying around. I took the first pass at planing it down and saw the loveliest curl I've seen in any wood, let alone cedar. I asked myself, do I really want to use this piece on a bird house?
I looked around and didn't see a better one - the bluebirds are gonna love it!
TWS
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