Perspective, Craft and Practicality

Once upon a time (about five minutes ago), in a land far, far away (…depending on your geographical location in relation to me), there was once a floor. It needed to be vacuumed, badly, but the human who should be running the machine was instead lying under her desk and contemplating perspective.

This must be what the cat sees when he’s hanging out under
the desk as I work. I just found it interesting how
different his world must be from mine, although we
live in the same home, breath the same air and lovingly
torment the same man when he’s here.

Ok, well, I don’t lie under my desk on a regular basis or anything. I’d happened to drop something
under there, caught a glimpse of what everything on my desk looked like through the glass surface and decided to get deep and philosophical amongst the cat hair.

It got me thinking about how we who create things use our slightly different from the ‘norm’ way of looking at the world to turn something like a worn out pair of jeans into a bag for carrying things or pillows to sleep on. For me, it’s just reducing the thing I want to use to its basic parts, thinking about the form it’s in and visualizing the form I want it to be in. From there, it’s just figuring out how to do it with the least amount of hassle.

Really, I don’t really view the process of being all that complicated, but it does take a little bit of mental training to be able to see the potential. I think it’s a fundamental mental flexibility combined with visual thinking, in my case, though I know that’s not the case in all crafter’s cases.

To widen the net a little further, it’s not the case in all people’s cases in general. If you stop and think about it, you can probably find craft in the most unlikely of places. Take something mundane like the big blue binder that I’d apparently picked up for 79 cents somewhere in the picture above.

There’s no pictures on the covers, it’s not all that attractive stylistically and before I put paper in it, there was nothing but the metal rings. Nothing all that special, right? They’re produced for pennies and most school kids probably have at least one.

Well, it’s not quite that dull, if you think about the person who first came up with the idea of a three ring binder. After a quick search, it turns out the binder as we know it was created in the late 1880s by the son of a blacksmith in Westphalia (now part of Germany), who had also invented a new form of calligraphy, the hole punch amongst other things. His name was Friedrich Soennecken. I’ll call him Freddy, since Friedrich is such a handful to type.

Back then, loose leaf paper was in use, but it was pretty hard to keep organized. There were some options available, but none which kept the papers tidy and protected at the same time. Since the earliest binders were actually made from thick cardboard with the rings attached to a rigid spine, I’m betting Freddy used what he found around the shop, figured out how to put it together, and viola! The three ring binder is born.

That’s not a whole lot different from today’s upcyclers and crafters of all kinds. It’s that same kind of ability to see potential, the patience to act upon it and the willingness to create something others can enjoy that unites us all.

I tend to see similar abilities in people like teachers, doctors and just about any other profession you can think of. Everything requires at least a little mental flexibility to solve problems that come up in anything we do. The final product may be different, whether it’s a new bit of information picked up by a kid or someone with renewed health, but the process of observing a task, visualizing a solution and figuring out how to solve it is the same.

Funny how doing something silly like lying under your desk can prompt such a long train of thought, huh?

I don’t think the cat’s impressed.

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