Thursday, 29 March 2018

Why "The Artist's Mark" (and no, my name's not Mark)

Every year several people come through the door and ask if I am Mark. I say that no, my name is Peter (although sometimes Vickie refers to me by other names that can't be typed here- well deserved, she says).
We call our shop The Artist's Mark because it reflects the contents. Pretty much every piece of every item is hand made and thus bears the mark of the artist. This is something we feel is very important, even more so in our age of mass, cookie-cutter production.
We were reminded of this when we were having coffee this morning and looked up and saw these beams.


The house was built in 1849, from timbers of a ship that went down in the bay across the road so these hand hewn beams (each about 30 feet long) were probably made 200 years ago! We have 10 of them so about 300 feet of beams. How long did it take to make these? Where were they made originally? What kind of men did the work? Why are there holes and indentations at certain points? Would one ask any of these questions if you were looking up at a steel I-beam?
So when you look at pieces in the shop, if you look closely, you will always find the mark of the artist. A customer asked recently if I put an identifying mark on my pieces and I answered "Tons of 'em- just look closely and you'll see tiny scratches and nicks in the copper and often little irregularities in the shape, etc. of the stones- these are all my identifying marks and show where and how the material was handled". So it has a story- a history as it were and we feel strongly that this adds not only to the charm, but to the value.
A perfect case in point is the piece I just finished.


It,s called Sea Foam and is a local piece of jasper that Vickie found nearby. If you look closely, you will see marks where I nipped the ends of the wires and filed them smooth and where I pinched it to hold the leather cord. You'll see hammer marks where I flattened the copper bar so I could drill it.
The main stone has beautiful patterning and shows why I prefer agate and jasper to gem stones.


But as you can see, there are some tiny pits in the surface and the shape is not perfectly symmetrical. Some would have filled the pits with resin and made the stone symmetrical but I find that boring. It was a collaborative effort. I cut, ground, polished and drilled the stone and God chipped in with the amazing patterns.
So if you are looking for perfection, if you want cookie cutter, you will be disappointed at The Artist's Mark. But if you like unique pieces that tell a story, you will definitely like our shop.
And by the way, if you want to read more about artist's marks check out Vickie's polymer clay blog. Just do a google search on "claymagination".
Hope to see you soon!

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