I should probably not separate what I consider “manual” from “craft”. however, there was something very ingenuous, concrete and…well evoking the “working with hands” in the projects presented by theEDGE laboratory
I was very impressed by the material being produced at the EDGE adaptive lab at Ryerson university. Led by artist /pappetteer and early child education student Noah kenneally, and early child educatiion professor Alison Gaston , the lab is committed to adaptive design, that is to fornitures, toys and chairs that can be used by children with disability. in fact, the problem with these children is not just the inability to do certain activities that other “normal” kids can participate in, but it also lies on the forced isolation and invisibility these kids are condamned to. By building ad hoc tools that will allow these kids to actually participate in the same activities as the other children, the EGDE lab noted an increased awareness and acceptance of chldren with disabilities by the rest of the children. having the right tool then means also facilitating interaction between differently able children as well as acceptance and inclusiveness, which would be otherwise denied.
an interesting detail about the activity of the lab is its use of sustainable material and its duplicability : in fact, the prototypes for adaptive products are built out of cardboard, tailored to the child’s needs and easily modified until they reach the ideal form. This strategy not only make this design sustainable and easily malleable, but it also encourages non-designers to make their own prototypes.
Going back to the difference between the two categories “craft” and “manuality”, I thought it would be useful to distinguish an activity that implies practicality and the shaping of physical utilitarian objects that, however, focus more on contingent situations (having a problem that needs to be solved by looking at a number of very social factors) from another very material activity that uses creativity in a slighly different way. works by fashion designer and fabric inventor Jenny Leary and ceramic sculptor Mark Jaroszewicz are both fitting the “crafty” category. In addition, both works are very much committed to finding new ways to build objects out of common but underused material such as iron and magnets and in using the materiality of sculpture as away to convey a certain physical feeling to numbers.
in the first case, Leary thought of cloth as a medium to translate invisible process into a tangible form. Her experiments with FerroFabric led to drawing with magnets, Magnetic patterns that can be applied onto walls and combined, magnetic jewelry and the transformation of the magnetic stripe contained in credit card into a skin that can be then shaped as purse or as other objects. apparently, there are many ways to liberate the magnetic strip of your cards. The card liberation front has a few tutorials on how to do it
turning numbers into very concrete objects and then building sculptures that represent numbers is thegoal of Mark Jaroszewicz.
carrying specific shapes and colors, each sculpture is respresenting a number, which then can be recognized by the weight. thus, the number 10 will have a shape and number non recognizable at first sight, but will weight 10 gr. in addition to being a modular sculptural project that can be composed and re-composed alsomst infinitely, the system of sculpture/numbers are a very immediate educational tool that can be used to teach math to skeptical pupils.