Back when I was doing lost wax casting, designing and
making one of a kind jewelry, there was a relatively
famous jewelry maker who also traveled around the
country teaching lost wax casting and jewelry making.
He even had a book on the subject and had developed
a very distinct style, using the same elements in
various combinations for all his pieces. He had quite
a following, in both the “art world” as well as the
One Of jewelry makers.
As a professional jewelry designer and maker, he was
very successful. As a teacher, not so much. Rather
than teach the techniques of lost wax casting and
design considerations, he taught his students how to
make pieces like his stuff. I suspect that It was
a good marketing move on his part because any of
his students’ pieces that people liked always was
accompanied by “Bob Winston taught me how to
make jewelry.”. He was so influential that, if I could
see three pieces any jeweler made, I could tell if he
or she had ever taken a class from Bob Winston.
I bring up this example because of an article I read
in the Oct. 2005 issue of Fine Woodworking, entitled
Sam Maloof on Design. In the article he warns against
domineering instructors. “Some instructors demand
that you work the way they work, and so there
becomes just many little followers of this person
or that person.” This was certainly the case with
this one jewelry instructor.
And that brought to mind James Krenov, as well
as Monty Python’s The Life of Bryan. With both,
the message got lost by “the followers”. Instead
of emulating the approach to things, what they
make/do are emulated - often to the letter.
Technique is always easier to learn and do than
to understand and use a philospy/ an approach
to the doing/making. I’m guessing Frank Lloyd Wright
had this problem as well.
I don’t think Mr. Krenov or Mr. Wright meant to
have people make stuff that looked like their
stuff. And poor Brian, he was just in the wrong
place at the wrong time. But that can happen when
you have followers instead of students. Probably
most of the fault lies with the followers.
Just something to think about - or not.
(hmmm - if and when Christ or Mohamed or
whomever “comes back”, is the first thing
he says going to be
“You missed the point, so I’m back to try again.”?)