For some time I have wanted to try my hand at linocuts. A birthday last month provided the resources. (Thanks family!) After a couple of weeks and a few scarred blocks, I might be hooked.
What about handcraft is so appealing? Handcraft is attractive on both ends: it is a joy to create something by hand and also we intuitively are drawn to those things that are handmade. This pleasure we receive from creating and enjoying a creation are primal. In the day to day of modernity, many of us are removed from creating altogether. Of course, we all receive benefits from things that have been created. Yet the vast majority of the objects we possess are layers removed from handicraft. Even if we take pleasure in modern objects, it is more likely we marvel at the engineering feat of the manufacturing process than that we delight in the craftsmanship. How many of us were impressed with chamfers before the release of the iPhone 5? Occasionally manufacturing and craftsmanship complement one another. The brilliance of LEGO comes to mind.
One aspect of creating linocuts appeals to me a great deal. To make a linocut, I have to remove what is unnecessary. When it is finished, all that is left is all that is required for the object I am creating, in this case a print. This is the exact opposite of the modern manufacturing process which requires the addition of the unnecessary. Modern manufacturers add many items that are not required to create objects. These additional items are used to achieve the goals of industry, usually efficiencies and quantities, but are unnecessary for the goal of creating the object itself.
This is not a harangue against modernity. I am grateful for the innovations even as I wonder about the simplicity absent from so many of them.
The linocut pictured was my second attempt at a birthday gift for my 14-year-old daughter. It comes from Luke 8, the story of Jesus calming the storm. “Suddenly the storm stopped and all was calm.” I had not thought about it until just now, yet perhaps the story offers some comfort for those who wonder if the hectic pace of modernity is a bit too stormy. In time there will be calm.