A Trail of Real Things in the World


“It has become clear to me that perfection is not a product, it’s a process. Our journey toward perfection begins with a hint of an idea that will not let us go – perhaps a graceful curve that we saw once on an armoire or a chair that surprised us with its strength and perfect lines. Maybe it is a need for a place to put books or something upon which to write stories. Our creative spirits hover over that sort of chaos waiting for a spark, and when that spark comes we get to work on creating something new. Sometimes with great effort and a little luck, the results will bear faithful witness to our intentions, but even that is just the first step.

“As I type this I am sitting at the finished table, and it is obvious that it was not made in a factory. Anyone can see or feel that it was made by human hands. There are plane tracks traversing the underside and slight undulations from my cabinet scraper on the top. This table is no showpiece. It was meant to be used. Already it has dents from dropped silverware and scratches around the corners. This table has a future full of bumps and scrapes, and I know they will only make it better.

“We have long assumed that perfection is a metaphysical problem, though experience tells us that it is written out in the language and dialect of the physical world. Cabinetmakers and craftspeople all leave a trail of real things in the world – artifacts and symbols – as a part of the complex discourse of society. When craftspeople endeavor to create, what they are really doing is translating something universal into something particular. These are the things to which we point and say, “this is a bed” or “that is a chair.” Sometimes we add descriptors or modifiers like “good” or “elegant,” and in the very few instances when we wager to call a thing “perfect” we know that something special has been brought into the world.”

– Jim McConnell, excerpt from “Perfection: Both Practical & Practiced” in Issue Three

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