Friday, February 26, 2016

art v. craft



Dear Crafty Person Who Uses Their Hands in Skilled Ways,

Years ago, I had a much clearer boundary drawn between art and craft-  it went like this:

      Can you use it?  It's not art.

      Is it photography?  It's probably not art.
These facile distinctions make for good jokes, but they don't shed any light on what art is or why it isn't craft.  Hence, I have retreated into the greyness between art and craft.  I no longer use my mind to attempt the double back flip of telling anyone what art is not.  Our discourse on what is art has become a little too vague to participate in.  We are not yet defeated, though, because we can define a related term:  Ornamentation.

Your coffee cup holds liquid for you to drink without Donald Duck being printed on it- The image of Donald is ornamentation, and your cup is a utilitarian item. 

Also, it probably isn't art.  It might not even be craft, but it is an ornamented object.  Ornamentation does not affect function.  Your cup works even if Donald wears off after years of use.  So, today, an ornamentation project of mine, please to not be confused with art, or even craft.



This is my freshly ornamented helmet.  Helmets, as you know, have a shelf life.   I suppose it's that the plastic becomes brittle, or the styrofoam degrades.  My beloved previous helmet was a shiny hot pink, dated 2008.  Helmet-wearers are advised to replace them every five years. 
Water-mounted decal paper was used in an ink jet printer to make this large pair of moths to adhere to my helmet.  The moth images came from a beautiful printed calendar a pal gave me years ago.  The decal paper is easily purchased online.  Like the decals you had in your plastic kit models, they are water slip decals- easily applied with water.  On very slick surfaces (like the top tube of my bicycle) they are also easily scratched off, but they leave no sticky residue or any trace of their existence.  I applied a matte acrylic varnish over the top of these moths on my helmet to help preserve them.  I have worn it and banged it around in my skate bag for 2 months now, and it seems to be holding up very well.

I bet you will find a lot of things in your immediate locale that call for ornamentation with water-slide decals:  Perhaps that coffee cup with nothing but two duck feet left on it could use a new decal....