Axe Making and the Modern Appreciation of Antiquated Crafts
I came across the above video recently, and sat in wonderment for about six minutes as the process of making an axe by hand progressed before my eyes (the Bon Iver soundtrack helped). I was led to think of the state of artistic craftsmanship in today’s society and found an appreciation for the appreciation of this type of work. I accept the risk of sounding too meta with this all, but I was genuinely delighted to know that appreciation for this type of work can (and does) still exist. There is something organically wonderful about watching one set of hands perform every step in a process like the one in the video. Although this goes against all modern notions of efficiency, that may in fact be the source of some of my admiration. This idea does have some grounding in the business world (see: Hermes production of a Birkin Bag) but is more often than not abandoned for profit margins. With this current generation of 18-30s being born in the eighties, it seems that all they have known is mechanical production and mass repetition. Does the simple rejection of the familiar explain the fascination with these types of goods? Regardless, the idea has been growing for quite some time, and really shows no sign of letting up (see: Best Made Co., Made By Hand, and to a lesser extent Etsy). With that, the question is begged: Is this all simply a trend fueled by the open access provided by the internet? With the ability to be as specific as you like in terms of your production, distribution and market, it is natural that super-small niche sellers would appear. In fact, that may be one of the only ways to compete with mega-retailers like Amazon also based online, and even box-retailers like WalMart constantly increasing their online presence. This is something that will be confirmed or denied over time, but certainly represents an interesting possibility.
The other way to view this video is to see it (and the produced axe) as works of art, and nothing more. Or that the value (artistic or otherwise) of the axe is in its production, and the axe itself is merely the byproduct. Both of those views discount the useful value of the axe, but when has art ever provided function as its primary motive?
There is no answer here. Just a beautiful video. And one last question: Would you rather display the axe in the above video over your mantle, or an identical looking axe purchased at Rona? The answer to that question raises an eye to the importance of these issues.
Video found on Reddit