Thursday, April 9, 2015

Me Fecit

I posted this on Craft Hackers yesterday, but felt I'd like to have it here too. Ya'll can deal.


No, it isn’t a dirty word, although knowing me it very well could be. This week’s post was inspired by my grandfather who passed away last week. In going through his belongings, his artistic works were some of the most treasured items.


My grandfather was a woodworker and silversmith. Not that you’d know it if you asked him. He spent his life working a paper job, coming home and creating beauty at night. A “frustrated artist” as one person at the funeral said. I can empathize with having to do a job to put food on the table, while working on your art in your free time, as I’m sure many of us can. But even with that, he always took the time to grow his own talents as well as encourage me with my own artistic pursuits.

One of the lessons I learned from him a long time ago was “always sign your work.” Grandaddy was always encouraging of my artistic pursuits, but he was insistent that I ensure every piece had my own mark so it would be known who made it. It is one of the reasons I have struggled with so long in finding the “right” name to work under.



He must have taken his own advice to heart, though, and in his later pieces, you can see a new signature appear. He had always put his initials, TSD, on his work before, and occasionally he added a graphic to the designs. Grandaddy was a scholar as well, and his new signature incorporated both his name, a unique mark, and his love of Latin. TSD Me Fecit. “TSD I made it”

As an artist, we like to think that our work will stand on and our link to it will be known. But it isn’t always that easy. Who gave me that quilt when I was a child? Who embroidered that sampler on the wall? We grow up and forget names and places and times. Our work is passed to others who never knew the stories behind them. Without a signature, a mark, something to stamp that work as your own, you become a nameless, faceless creator. Items have stories, value, worth when we know where they come from.

I’m so glad my grandfather marked his works. I will always know that my cutting board was given to me by my grandfather at age 90. I will know that the chalice and candlestick he carved came from him, and my heirs will too.

Do you have an artistic signature? Does your business? If not, take my grandfather’s advice and develop a unique indicator of your creation.

Be proud of your work, and tell the world “I made it.”

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