Tuesday, January 31, 2012

'Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence'

"Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it.  Autograph your work with excellence." -Anonymous

Each of Lou Quallenberg's mesquite furniture  pieces are signed, but even if they were not signed they are easily identified in several unique ways.

Lou Quallenberg's Signature Design Elements
  • Mesquite Wood Construction
  • Floating Live Edge Slab Tops 
  • Laminated Curved Bases
  • Clean Curved Design Style
  • Curves Upon Curves
  • Original Curved Bow Tie
  • Cracks, Holes and Character 
  • Artist's Signature

Artists began signing their work near the end of the Middle ages, first in France then spreading throughout Europe.  The practice of signing the work developed as art making left the hands of the Monks working collaboratively in Monastery workshops and individuals began to strive for greater artistic skill and recognition.

From 1890-1938 Pilkington's Royal Lancastrian Pottery produced some amazing pottery, tiles and glazes. I find the Makers Marks artistic pieces in themselves.
FROM SOCIETY WEBSITE: The pottery artists at Pilkington's each had their own distinctive mark. The male artists also used a specific mark to denote the year a vase was decorated. Whilst the tile artists occasionally put a mark or signature to their work this was not common. Some artists works are much more scarce than others which influences the value of an item. The marks of certain artists  for example Evans or Ormerod are very rarely seen.

The Society is able to identify most marks and the year of production for members. A stylized presentation of the marks is shown here.

 I recently read about the following  hidden signatures in the Steve Jobs biography.  It made me wonder if I might find something like this on the inside of one of our many old and outdated Mac's that we keep as a mini museum of all things Mac.  Most still work and are kept around for our
entertainment purposes only. I really liked the way Mr. Jobs wanted these computers to be considered art because it is how I think about them.
Signatures Inside an Early Mac
COPIED FROM www.folklore.org: "The Mac team had a complicated set of motivations, but the most unique ingredient was a strong dose of artistic values. First and foremost, Steve Jobs thought of himself as an artist, and he encouraged the design team to think of ourselves that way, too. The goal was never to beat the competition, or to make a lot of money; it was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little greater. Steve often reinforced the artistic theme; for example, he took the entire team on a field trip in the spring of 1982 to the Louis Comfort Tiffany museum, because Tiffany was an artist who learned how to mass produce his work.
Since the Macintosh team were artists, it was only appropriate that we sign our work. Steve came up with the awesome idea of having each team member's signature engraved on the hard tool that molded the plastic case, so our signatures would appear inside the case of every Mac that rolled off the production line. Most customers would never see them, since you needed a special tool to look inside, but we would take pride in knowing that our names were in there, even if no one else knew."
I thought the example below of signing ones work was a great way to stay on top of quality control. Imagine if we all had to sign our name to our work (whatever it might be) before we released it out to the world. Taking ownership of whatever work we produced because we knew we had to sign it. I think those Big Mac's at McDonalds would actually look like the photos on the Menu.  I can see why these probably are the best axes in the world.  I want one just because I know the story and that the artist signed it.
COPIED FROM THEIR MARKETING MATERIALS:"Gränsfors axes are forged by very professional smiths. The proof of this professionalism is that they are able to forge axes with such precision that no supplementary work, to hide mistakes in the forging, is needed.

Gränsfors axes are forged and signed by the smiths.
At Gränsfors Bruks, the forging craft is allowed to take its time. The smiths do not work by the piece. They take care and do the right forging from the beginning. There is no need to stone or grind or smooth or paint the axes in order to hide or eliminate imperfections in the forging. A smith at Gränsfors Bruks has nothing to hide and he is proud of his professional standards. When he is satisfied with his work and has accepted his axe, he marks the head with his initials beside the company's crown label:
LP: Lennart Pettersson, MM: Mattias Mattsson, BA: Bert-Ove Andersson
US: Ulrika Stridsberg, KS: Kjell-Äke Sjölund, RA: Rune Andersson
UN: Ulrik Nilsson, DG: Daniel Gräntz, AS: Anders Stromstedt
DP: Domingo Gas Pallares, TT: Tobias Thelin
Made in Sweden."

COPIED FROM SILVER HALLMARKS WEBSITE www.silverhallmarks.org.ukwww.silverhallmarks.org.uk:
Silver hallmarks are an invaluable aid to collectors and dealers for identifying the date & maker of antique silver, and indeed any piece of silver made in England.

Hallmarks on silver were first introduced in the UK in 1300 as a method of proving that the silver object contained the correct amount of silver, since pure silver is a very soft metal and consequently any object made from silver requires some base metal to be added to it to strengthen it.
In these early days it was not uncommon for silver objects to be melted down and converted into coinage, and so it was imperative that the silver used was of a sufficient grade, especially with continental silver containing a much lower percentage of silver.
Silver Hallmarks were the answer to this problem.Any piece of silver had to be officially approved to be of a high enough silver content, and would be given it’s hallmark only when this was the case.
As a consequence the hallmark became a standard of quality and assurance, and the presence of a hallmark on a silver object was an official seal of approval.
English silver, or Sterling silver is often referred to as solid silver, but it does in fact contain 7.5% copper, so it is 92.5% pure, which is why modern silver often has a .925 mark stamped into it. Continental silver is often only 80% pure.
English Silver Hallmarks evolved over time, with the eventual inclusion of the standard or sterling mark, the assay office, the year of manufacture, the maker, and sometimes an additional mark for special reasons.
All of these silver hallmarks can help in identifying exactly when and by who any piece was made, which is not only helpful to collectors of antique silver, but also offers a fascinating dimension to any old silver object that you may possess.

So with all these beautiful examples of artists signing their work, I hope it inspires you to take ownership of your work - whatever it may be and remember that it is a reflection of yourself.  With that said we have restarted the video creation process to showcase  Lou Quallenberg's Mesquite Furniture making techniques and had hoped to post one with this blog post but it was just not ready for our signature.....

(This blog post was greatly inspired by a blog post, "would you sign your work" that Hubertus Von Lobenstein wrote in his blog that was inspired by a blog post that Tom Fishbourne wrote in his blog http://tomfishburne.com/ prior to his post dated January 2011.)