Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The New Guild for the Traditional Plastering Craft

Courtesy of Philip Gaches
The recognition of a need for a "New" Guild for the traditional plastering craft first arose some years ago among some recognised Masters of the craft. Granted, there are existing organisations in the United Kingdom that work with training in primarily proprietary industrial plaster materials through the NVQ system at Colleges of Further Education. Furthermore, there are forums dedicated to the  chemical and material science of plaster materials, particularly various limes. Nevertheless, as materials, means and methods of the traditional plastering craft have been widely recovered in the past few decades it seems evident to many that what is how urgently needed is a plasterers' guild composed of plasterers for the benefit of plasterers led by an authoritative body of Masters whose experience, competence and character can be attested to by their fellows.

I would like to stress from the outset that what follows is my personal perspective on the New Guild and I'm in no way acting as a spokesman on their behalf.

Masters and Guilds

I think it's a fair question to ask, what does it mean to be a "Master" of traditional plastering and  what is it specifically that sets a Master Plasterer apart from other, related qualifications? The following are my personal reflections in response to that question from the latest Gathering in Dublin, Ireland:

A Master might know quite a bit about the history of his craft but he's not expected to be an academic.
A Master often has acute business acumen but his qualification is not that of an administrator.
A Master should have a good understanding of plaster composition but he's not expected to be a scientist.
A Master is recognised by his fellows as a person of upstanding character as well as an expert in his craft...no ifs, ands, or buts about that. We'll expand on what that expertise might consist of a bit later.

An equally fair question to ask, in our contemporary age what is the purpose of a Guild? Once again, some personal reflections that represent my take on what are at least some of the things that a Guild can accomplish well:

A Guild provides true fellowship among craftsmen who experience much the same life but it is not a social club.
A Guild facilitates collaboration of large or complex projects facing its members but it is not a union or a cartel.
A Guild cultivates its membership, providing education and mentorship for not only the technical aspects of the craft but also the ethical and financial responsibilities of operating a business.
A Guild provides an authoritative body of expertise that the public as well as the professional architectural and conservation communities can rely upon to locate qualified plasterers for heritage and new traditional plasterwork.

While there are many things a guild could embark upon to fulfill the aforementioned purposes, the New Guild has two organisational structures already well developed and implemented: The Register and The Gathering

The Membership Register

Only Masters Plasterers are full members of the Guild. And only individuals can be members of the guild at any level. The process to qualify as a Master Plasterer is extremely rigorous. First of all, it requires at least 25 years of experience to even be able to qualify to apply at that level. Furthermore, the assessment is conducted by existing Master Plasterers and involves interviews as well as on site evaluation of past and ongoing work. A few of the skills that should be already mastered by a candidate include:

Mastery of methods of solid, flatwork plastering is of course fundamental.
Material knowledge is likewise vitally important; a candidate should be able to understand and use a wide range of plaster materials (lime, clay, gypsum, natural cement) and understand the difference between these materials and their applicable techniques as they apply to different periods of history for conservation work.
Candidates should be well qualified in running mouldwork, both run-in-situ as well as fibrous.
Experience should extend to specialty work such as ornamentation, scagliola and composition mouldings.
And very importantly, a candidate for being a Master should already be able to teach courses in plastering and would be expected to be actively involved in apprenticeships.

Again, this is extremely rigorous; nevertheless, that rigor ensures that the title is well earned and means something. If the aforementioned sounds overwhelming, I can assure you there's no reason to get discouraged or feel the Guild is exclusive or not for you. There are a number of levels for associate members of the Guild which I'll expand upon below.

Traditional Plasterer - Having a good deal of experience and mastery of many of the fundamental skills above that is working towards the qualification of Master Plasterer.

Fibrous Plasterer - Specialised in and operating at a very high level of skill in fibrous plasterwork and ornamentation.

Conservation Plasterer - Capable of carrying out small repairs in a conservative and careful manner. Also able to conserve plaster using methods of stabilisation. Should have a very high level of knowledge regarding material science.

Vernacular Plasterer - Capable of plain plastering of cottages and small houses with a good knowledge of traditional materials but not necessarily to a high degree of accuracy.

There has been some discussion about a category for students and apprentices and that looks likely to be included soon. Also, there is a honorary designation for Friends of the Guild, pertaining to academics and professionals outside the plastering craft that do important research and advocacy on behalf of the craft.

The Master Plasterers Gathering

The first couple of gatherings were held in Lincolnshire where the idea of formulating the New Guild was being incubated. I'm not sure how it happened but I was invited to the inaugural Master Plasterers Gathering in Wales after the New Guild had recently launched. Dozens of traditional plasterers were in attendance and I was overwhelmed with exposure to traditional techniques such as hot lime/earth mortar mixes, ornamental pargeting and haired lime as used in Jacobean mouldwork. Of course chat around the campfire, wild game and Welsh whisky at the local pub were nice touches as well!

I unfortunately missed the next Gathering which took place in York. However, I was able to attend this year's gathering in Dublin. We still had our social lubrication with fine dining and pints of Guinness (boy is it better in Ireland!); however, it was clear the Guild was maturing. Since the previous gathering a committee had been formed to how this Guild will organise itself to fulfill all of the purposes I had mentioned at the outset. I was honoured to be included in their deliberations and won't disclose how they intend to move forward, save to say that it is with confidence and ambition; I witnessed a real display of leadership.

The highlight of this latest Gathering in Ireland was the complete reconstruction of St Mel's Cathedral in Longford. On Christmas Day 2009 a fire completed gutted the roof and interior of the Cathedral, a catastrophe for the entire region. We received a breakdown of how the monumental plaster reconstruction was carried out, absolutely invaluable trade knowledge. The plasterwork carried out there within a ridiculously abbreviated time constraint was nothing short of miraculous. It was only possible because of the collaboration of several now recognised within the Guild as Master Plasterers. All of the plasterwork reconstructed at St Mel's but particularly the ceiling stand as a testament against the claims that "we can't do that type of work anymore" or that "there is nobody qualified to do it". That one project embodies almost every aspect of the traditional plastering craft conducted at the highest and most monumental level.

Courtesy of Philip Gaches

Many more good things are on the near horizon. Next year's Gathering is being organised to take place in Scotland. Perhaps the following year in France where Master Plasterers from the New Guild will get to roll up their sleeves with their counterparts from Les Compagnons! At some point we would love to host a Gathering here in the United States as there are many plasterers who have heard of the New Guild and are beginning to express interest in getting involved. Speaking of which, if you're interested in finding out more about the Guild or to request an application you can contact them at the link below:


Contributed by Patrick Webb

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Pulvinar, Angulated and Angular Forms of the Ionic Capital

Pulvinar Volute
Owing to a recent commission of a bespoke Ionic pilaster capital with angular volutes, this subject has been very much on my mind. Having previously considered the history, unique ornamentation as well as the anthropomorphic and proportional theories of the Ionic Order, in this essay we'll make an even more detailed examination of it's most identifying feature: the large and very conspicuous volutes. There are really two distinct ways of constructing the capital and a hybrid version developed by the Greeks that I quite like. I suppose that technically the designations pulvinar, angulated and angular are intended to describe the volutes only; nevertheless, in pracitse they're often used to refer to the entire capital and I'll alternate between both usages here. We'll start our consideration with the most commonly occurring or 'standard' Ionic capital: the pulvinar.

The Pulvinar Ionic Volute

Portico, Jefferson Memorial
The word 'pulvinus' comes directly from Latin and it means 'cushion' or 'pillow' or alternatively the swelling of the stem at the base of a leaf. In architectural and craft usage the pulvinus may also be referred to as a 'bolster' as it resembles an extended cushion or scroll that connects the front and rear volutes of the capital. This version of the Ionic capital’s front and rear elevations differ from its side elevations. This can sometimes result in awkward transitions with the pulvinar side of the capital  in elevation when  the columns turn the right, 90° corner such as typically encountered in deep porticos or peripteral (surrounded on all sides) colonnades. The following variation of the Ionic capital was developed by the Greeks to address this very problem.

The Angulated Ionic Volute

The Erechtheion
Stuart & Revett
On the Acropolis overlooking Athens, the Classical Greeks employed the 'angulated' solution on two of their temples dedicated to Athena: the famous Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. Instead of volutes expressed front and back, for the corner capitals they are placed front and side so as to face the exterior with the exterior corner volute extending out at a 45° angle. By contrast, the two sides of the corner capitals facing the interior are pulvinar in elevation, creating an awkward but largely unseen 90° collision of the inner volutes. This solution would continue to be occasionally employed by the Romans as well, a notable surviving example being the Temple Portunus along the Tiber.

Temple of Athena Nike

The Angular Ionic Volute

Arch of Septimius Severus
The Romans went on to develop an additional order that we now call the Composite whose capital combined the lower acanthus rows of the Corinthian with the large volutes of the Ionic. In doing so they took the angulated solution from the Greek Ionic and employed it for all four corners. This 'angular' design was then used for all the capitals of a colonnade not just the corner capital. They also applied this solution directly to the Ionic Order itself as is evidenced by the surviving example of a single colonnade of the Temple of Saturn.

Temple of Saturn, Rome

Scamozzi Ionic
It was really during the Late Renaissance that the angular Ionic came into widespread architectural use with the publishing of Vincenzo Scamozzi's monumental architectural treatise: L’Idea dell’Architettura Universale (The Idea of an Universal Architecture). Scamozzi was a student of Palladio, and his approach to the capital was well received by the British during their Palladian movement, most notably by architect James Gibbs with his own 18th century architectural treatise, Rules for Drawing the Several Parts of Architecture, that featured a "Scamozzi" type Ionic capital. This quite naturally found its way into the architecture of Colonial America and continued through American Independence.

With the overthrow of the Ottomans during the 19th century Greek war of Independence, increased opportunity was opened up for visiting Classical Greek archeological sites, ruins and remains. This sparked a massive revival of Greek architectural forms including their variations of the Ionic Order. As a result, we're quite blessed to have the full spectrum of Greek, Roman, Renaissance and beyond, including some incredibly creative and interesting variants available for our enjoyment such as my personal favourite, the "Cherubim" Angular Ionic of All Souls Church.

Contributed by Patrick Webb

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Ionic Order

Altar, Heraion of Samos
The name Ionic applied to this Classical Order of architecture derives both from the ancient territory of Ionia, its people and culture who dominated the greater region. The Ionian League thus came to refer to the first alliance of culturally Greek city-states coalescing in the 7th century B.C.E. as Greece was moving from its Archaic towards its Classic period. The league included ancient Ionia, Lydia, Aeolia and a number of islands off the coast of Asia Minor, constituting essentially the whole of Western Anatolia, modern day Turkey.

Although there are numerous examples of the Ionic Order throughout Classical Greece, the oldest examples of monumental Ionic stone temples are to be found in Anatolia of Archaical Greece and undoubtedly the pre-existing aesthetic influences on its development appear to come from further East and South.

Column Capital, Persepolis
The most conspicuous feature of the fully developed Classical Ionic Order is unquestionably the large spiral volutes of the column capitals. These certainly find precedent in the architecture of the Persian Empire, both adversary and trading partner of the Ionian Greeks. Likewise the Aeolians, prior to joining the league, had adapted their own Aeolic Order featuring prominent volutes that were taken more or less directly from their vital trading partners, the ancient Phoenicians.
Aeolic Column Capital

Although there are indications that the Ionic Order may have its tectonic origins in an earlier timber construction, archeologically it first appears more or less as a fully developed monolithic stone temple architecture by the 6th century B.C.E. Certainly refinements were to come; however, the stylobate, the surrounding peripteral colonnade, fluted columns as well as the details of the column capital such as the egg & dart, honeysuckle and swagged canalis of the joined volutes were already well articulated.

Column Capital at the Heraion of Samos, 6th century B.C.E.

Form Follows Femininity?

Erechtheion Ionic Capital
Greek temples built according to the Ionic Order certainly do have a different look and feel than those of the Doric Order. The proportions of the Ionic Order are more attenuated, the ornament loses the geometric character of the Doric Order in favour of more naturalistic and curvilinear forms. Marcus Pollio Vitruvius, 1st Century B.C.E. architectural theorist, claimed an anthropomorphic model as the Greek origin for the Ionic Order:

"Just so afterwards, when they desired to construct a temple to Diana (Greek Artemis) in a new style of beauty, they translated these footprints into terms characteristic of the slenderness of women, and thus first made a column the thickness of which was only one eighth of its height, so that it might have a taller look. At the foot they substituted the base in place of a shoe; in the capital they placed the volutes, hanging down at the right and left like curly ringlets, and ornamented its front with cymatia and with festoons of fruit arranged in place of hair, while they brought the flutes down the whole shaft, falling like the folds in the robes worn by matrons."

It is true that many of the Greek temples built according to the Ionic Order were dedicated to goddesses such as Hera and Artemis. The most splendid example of which, the Erechtheion, was dedicated to yet another goddess, Athena. The porch of the Erechtheion makes a compelling case for the anthropomorphic origin story, as the matronly Caryatids act as substitutes for the columns of what is clearly an Ionic Order elevation. Admittedly, the Greeks also erected temples in the Ionic Order dedicated to the gods Apollo and Dionysos, although it could be claimed these two were the most effeminate of the major male deities. Whatever truth there is or otherwise to the anthropomorphic attribution, it certainly does weave an entertaining narrative and serves as an useful memory aid in distinguishing some of the various Classical Orders principal features.

The Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion

As a System of Proportion

Elevation of the Five Orders of Architecture
Giacomo da Vignola, 1562
Another way of thinking about the Ionic Order is as a system of proportion. We already saw Vitruvius describe the proportional relationship of the Greek Ionic column as, "the thickness of which was only one eighth of its height." Interestingly, Vitruvius departs from this, personally promoting an even more attenuated version having a 1:9 ratio. One characteristic of all of the Renaissance treatises that followed was to continue presenting the Orders as highly rationalised systems whose fundamental unit of measurement was derived from the base radius or diametre (the module) of the given column. The elevations of the column, entablature, optional pedestal etc., as well as intercolumniation were all  proportional relationships derived from this base module.

Italian architectural theorist Giacomo da Vignola leaned heavily upon the Roman architectural treatise of Vitruvius, maintainng his 1:9, base diametre:height ratio. Others drew their justification on more archeological grounds either from what they considered an archetypal exemplar or a weighted average of various examples. As the territory of Ancient Greece was occupied by the Ottoman Turks during the Renaissance, the theorists were left with only Roman examples to draw from. What they generally concluded was that the orders progressed proportionally in attenuation from the rather solid Tuscan to the comparatively slender Composite with the Ionic right in the middle.

Comparative Ionic Orders. Robert Chitham, 1985

Elements and Enrichment

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Although not typically as ornamentally enriched as the Corinthian or Composite, the Ionic Order is hardly sparse. The projecting cornice of the entablature of the cornice is usually though not universally denticulated, that is to say supported by a row of dental blocks acting as an allusion to rafter tails in timber construction. The frieze is often ornamented and occasionally pulvinated or given a convex shape.

The capitals typically have a row of egg & dart as well as honeysuckle emanating from the volutes although there are exceptions for every rule and radical variations are possible and potentially quite interesting. Of course, the most visibly identifying feature of the Order are the large spiral volutes of the column capitals. There are many methods for laying these spirals out although two figure prominently in Renaissance and later treatises. Furthermore, the small details concerning the breadth of the fillets, depth of the canales, the spring and alignment of the spiral make for near infinite variety.

Well, we've already seem some hints of it in some of the images. In my followup to this essay we'll consider a particular variation of the Ionic Order, the Angular or sometimes commonly referred to as Scamozzi version of the Ionic.

Contributed by Patrick Webb

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Ministry of Craft

Bryn Athyn Cathedral
Often we associate craft with the concept of mastery. A master is essentially a 'great man', in the sense that he has achieved a very high level of skill, he rests at the apex of a hierarchy of competence within his craft and among his fellows. Nevertheless, craft is also associated with the concept of ministry. A minister is a 'lesser man', someone who recognises and subordinates himself to something greater. In the case of the craftsman, masters included, this ministry is toward the greater culture of which he is a member. Early 20th century architect Ralph Adams Cram penned a series of essays exploring this ministry as exemplified by the architectural Arts & Crafts movement. Much of his focus was regarding the critical role of education for both craftsman and architect, an education that would prepare them as co-labourers, ministers in service to their fellowman.

Education as Cultivation

Building Arts, Bryn Athyn College
What is the end and objective of education? Cram answered this question with succinctness and resolution: "the building of character...the making, not of specialists, but of fine men and women, good citizens...conversant with all the civilization of the past and its monuments, trained and disciplined in all that pertains to intellectual and spiritual experience." And what might such an education consist of? He recommends "Greek, Latin, history, literature, philosophy, mathematics" as the culturally enriched humus from which cultivated men can germinate. To these he adds religion and the arts. Our particular interest in this essay may be the latter; however, don't imagine for a moment that religion and art are entirely separable. They both in fact are aligned in their general orientation towards what lies outside of and underneath human reason. Whereas religion acts this out through ritual and says what little can be stated through literal dogma, art provides "the symbolic expression of otherwise inexpressible ideas...the most mysterious and tenuous of which the soul has cognition."

However, Cram describes a new theory of art that came to the fore during the Renaissance, one that began to deny and abolish everything of its previous mysticism and sense of wonder. Formalised art education at that time began to turn away from expressing eternal truths, eventually to be taught as nothing more than "an amenity of life, a conscious product, and a marketable commodity." Such a desiccation of art to mere commercial value made a truly liberal education an impossibility. In his words, "without culture we are barbarians, however much the balance of trade may be in our favour at the end of any given fiscal year."

Understanding the Arts & Crafts

In an era of utter decadence where every aspect of human life is commodified, including art and education, I truly believe we inflict a great psychological childhood trauma, we manage to beat out of each successive generation an instinct for art and for craft that starts off as natural for children as eating, sleeping or breathing. As we prepare our children for a virtual world of complete abstraction, privileging literacy and numeracy, we deny them efficacy; we deny them an embodied understanding of the world that only the practise of the arts and crafts can provide. Without a doubt, we are victims ourselves. In our defence, it is difficult to feel the sense of loss of something you've never experienced yourself. So what have we been missing that the traditional arts and crafts singularly provided?

We can start by way of analogy, "Art is, therefore, a language, but it deals with emotions, concepts, and impulses that cannot be expressed though any other medium known to man, because these emotions, concepts, and impulses are the highest, and therefore the most mysterious and tenuous, of which the soul has cognition." In the practise of art and craft you regularly accomplish the impossible to explain. In the confrontation with what is at the very limit of human capability, certainly of your individual capability, the conscious thought must give way to subconscious action in complete absorption with the task at hand. Therein lies the encounter with the mystery that defies rational explanation. Yet not rational observation for there it is, the manifest creation, the work of art! This is the human being operating at a fuller state of consciousness than reason alone. Owing to this Cram understood art and craft as "a language for which there is no substitute, and he who is not learned therein...to that extent ignorant, unlearned, uncultured."

Courtesy of Historic Doors
The arts & crafts are nothing less than, "the visible record of all that is noblest in man." Furthermore, they are records that we can trust, oft times written in stone, a "true history of the true man; and its records are infinitely more reliable and significant than are those chronicles that concern themselves with the unimportant details of the rise and fall of dynasties, the fabrication and annulment of laws, the doings and death of kings." Who knows how much of written history is lies and misinterpretation but certainly the chisel did fall upon the stone by the hands of men just like you and I, of that we can be sure.

If the aforementioned reflect aspects of what art and craft are, then what might it be that they signify, what do they point towards? Something like a glimpse of heaven on earth, "the natural, and, indeed, the only adequate, expression in time and space of spiritual things...which may be called the Intimation of the Absolute, and beauty is the mode of its manifestation, art the concrete expression thereof." Additionally, the arts and crafts serve a very human purpose, "as an agency working toward the redemption of human character", a tangible record that there is goodness, beauty and truth in what we are, of which we are not always aware, or too inclined to forget or dismiss, "for the life-blood of art is the giving of something a little better than men consciously desire."

Bryn Athyn Cathedral

What has become of architectural art, why do we struggle seemingly in vain to reestablish a culture of craft? "You cannot sever art from society; you cannot make it grow, however zealously you may labour and lecture and subsidize. It follows from certain spiritual and social conditions, and without these it is a dead twig thrust in sand, and only a divine miracle can make such bloom." Therein lies the rub, the arts & crafts are a visible manifestation of living culture, of an internal health and vitality. You can't force it from outside upon a society, no matter the good intentions of movements and manifestos, anymore than you as an individual can will yourself better when down with a case of influenza; the fever must rise and break and the sickness run its course. Oh, how I wish it were different, how that I could change the entire cultural landscape by stalwart example and mere force of will!

And yet there remains for the arts & craftsman his ministry, "the same part to play here that was so splendidly performed by the monasteries of the Dark Ages. In his work, whatever it may be, he must record and preserve all that was and is best in a shattered era."

The Architect and Craftsman as Fellow Ministers

Ralph Adams Cram identifies 1825 as a pivotal year that precipitated a rapid decline of the traditional arts & crafts. A decade hence from the violent suppression of the Luddite uprising in England, the Industrial Revolution had taken firm hold both in England and New England of the United States. The state of the architectural arts after two generations of industrialisation was nothing short of dismal as the following excerpt from an early 20th century annual report from the American Institute of Architecture's Committee on Education clearly reveals, "our carving is butchered, our sculpture and painting conceived on lines that deny their architectural setting, our metal-work turned out by the commercial ton, our stained-glass work defiant of every law of God, man, or architect, or it is all reduced to a dead level of technical plausibility, without an atom of feeling or artistry." What was not butchered by uncultured, untrained hands was "frozen to death", emblematic of the mass produced machine chiseled carvings and dull, lifeless cast plaster ornaments distributed through catalogues. Professional architects had estranged themselves from the genuine arts &  craftsmen, retreating to their drafting boards, producing in essence, " academic essays in theoretical design expressing nothing but the genius - or otherwise - of the architect."

Courtesy of Glencairn Museum
Cram reminds us of how much had been lost, "Without the craftsman an architectural design is worth little more than the paper on which it is drawn; it is an ephemera, a simulacrum of glory. From a distance, or at first sight, it may have majesty of form, power of composition, impressiveness of silhouette, and richness of light and shade, but close at hand, it is a dead thing without a vivifying soul." And again, "We may sit spellbound before the august majesty of the École des Beaux Arts...it will be of little avail if we cannot entrust our dreams and our working drawings to genuine craftsmen for the carrying out, but instead find ourselves compelled to the tender mercies of general contractors." I'm sure that last barb, dripping in sarcasm, hurts. The mercy of the craftsman is of a different sort, "when an architectural monument was a plexus of all the arts, the architect was pretty much at the mercy of the craftsman, and he still is, with a difference; for then every bit of sculpture or painting or carving or metal-work and joinery, and glass and needle-work, when these latter came into play, enhanced the architecture, glorified it, and sometimes redeemed it as well...can raise an inferior architecture to a level of credit that in itself it could not claim, while giving to an equally inferior civilization a glamour of glory that rightly could not proceed from its own inherent nature."

Two obstacles are highlighted by Cram as impeding the restoration of the intimate collaboration between the architect and the arts & craftsman: a disparity in educational resources and a lack of  autonomy for the craftsman. For the former he again references the aforementioned AIA report, "while we have the most copious and widespread architectural education to be found in any country, we have practically no agencies for the education of craftsmen. The result must be, and is, extremely injurious, if not fatal, to architecture itself." Cram elaborates of this report with some data of his own. The United States population of his day was approximately 100 million. Serving that population were a dozen architectural schools and practically no path for the education of traditional craftsmen. How are things a century later? While our population has nearly quadrupled, the architectural schools have multiplied tenfold with over 120 accredited programmes not to mention related programmes of historic preservation, architectural engineering and architectural history.

What about contemporary further education for arts & craftsmen? There are an handful of resources, emerging programmes such as The American College of the Building Arts, the department of Building Arts at Bryn Athyn College and The Center for Traditional Craft in Savannah, GA. Certainly this is something, more than existed twenty years ago; however, the disparity with the volume and resources allocated for architectural education as compared to craft is staggering beyond belief. There is an entrenched attitude on the part of many architects that real craftsmen no longer exist, inferring from that most questionable premise the conclusion that we ought to give up on any effort at arts & crafts and stick to an industrial built environment. Cram repudiated this argument already popular in his day as foolish, "if we have no artist-craftsmen, then it would be better for us to close up half the schools that are turning out architects and employ the funds for the training of the only men who can give life to the architect's designs." I truly believe Cram's admonishment was given in earnest and furthermore eminently practical. Reallocating a significant percentage of the abundant resources allocated to architectural education toward the education of genuine arts & craftsmanship will not diminish the profession of architecture, rather it will humanise architecture and redeem it to it's rightful position as mother of the arts.

Ornamental workshop, American College of the Building Arts

Regrettably, traditional arts & crafts is in a diminished state. To attain health again the minister is in need of being ministered to himself, "for it is the manifest duty of the architect to search out these individual craftsmen and to bring them into alliance with himself." Encouragingly, there are indications that this is beginning to happen. Many individual architects and firms are increasingly working with traditional arts & craftsmen; furthermore, architectural institutions such as The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art and The International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture & Urbanism are increasingly incorporating arts & crafts education for their memberships directly into their core curricula. Architectural media outlets such as Traditional Building Magazine have entire columns devoted to craft, regularly schedule craftsmen as speakers in their conference series and just recently announced a new category of "Craftsmanship" for their prestigious Palladio awards.

Education is vital; nevertheless, having well trained, technically proficient arts & craftsmen may be a necessary condition but it is not in and of itself a sufficient one to redeem architecture. For if the individual craftsman is not independent "we are left helpless and hopeless." What we need is an alliance, what Cram describes as, "the crux of the whole matter; whoever the craftsman is he must work with and not for the architect", the craftsman must preserve his identity in his work. In this spirit of liberty, autonomy yet free association I leave you the following parting admonition from one of the greatest allies ever to the American Craftsman, Ralph Adams Cram:

"What we are looking for, and what was always obtained in the epochs of high civilization, is not merely technical proficiency, but such proficiency united to creative capacity. There is no true craftsman who is not the personal designer of what he fashions."

Contributed by Patrick Webb