Yearning for Nostalgia: When Craftsmanship Mattered

Have you ever walked around an old city filled with beautiful architecture and marveled at the craftsmanship that went into each element?

A house in Zdiar, Slovakia, crafted without nails.

The lucky chandelier and painted ceiling of the Town Hall in Levoca, Slovakia

Have you ever looked at the craftsmanship of things created by hand centuries ago that have somehow survived the ages?

Have you ever thought about what we’ve lost in a world where production is made easier through technology, but somehow it leads to cookie cutter homes and replicas of pieces that were labored over for hours in times past?

I was reminded of this yesterday, when we met some friends a the New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, CT. I recently read a book whose main character restored carousel horses, so I found the tour or the museum fascinating, with the details coming to life about how the magnificent creatures were created.

A horse’s head coming to life.

I loved the idea that the  Master carved the Elegant  side of the animal (the side which would face out), while the apprentice practiced his craft on the plain side.

Carousel horse

Carousel horse (Photo credit: vpickering)

I was amused (although perhaps not surprised ) to learn that women were not allowed to ride on carousels until they added chariots.  I fell in love with a child’s chariot that had no top or bottom so even taller children could ride.

I wanted to take this home from the museum.

I was blown away by the people who had built miniature carousels and donated them to the museum. These creations were made of wood, paper, recycled objects (including a motor from a sewing machine) and even paper clips.

Those mini creations reminded me that craftsmanship isn’t dead, it’s just hidden in the passions of the few people who commit to the time, passion and precision required to create magnificent pieces of art. Sometimes you have to go hunt things out, to find the astounding possibilities in things made by hand.

Sushi crafted out of floral materials for the annual Christmas decoration contest at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens.

These cupcakes look delicious. Too bad they are made out of flowers and other natural materials at the Botanical Gardens.

While I may yearn for the times when people seemed to take more pride in their work, and progress wasn’t measured by how much we could cram into one day. I recognize that there are, indeed, people who live their lives with the idea of making this world a more beautiful place–through arts, crafts, music, and words.

I plan to be one of them.

A peaceful mantle at the botanic garden which inspires me to create places of peace in my own home.


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