Functional art? Of course! This term first cropped up years ago when I was buying an inlaid wood cutting board at a craft sale. The enthusiastic sales pitch delivered by the craftsman was convincing but what finally sold me was the notion of ‘functional art’.
According to Alex Allenchey at artspace.com functional art occupies the tenuous space between fine art and the every day, functional art refers to aesthetic objects that serve utilitarian purposes. Sound like soap? Although it may not be fine art with a capital ‘F’ I would argue that handmade soap can hold its own when it comes to aesthetics, the fragrance, colour, design and shape are all unique. The utility of soap? I think that we can all attest to that.
When I hear customers say “that’s too pretty to use!” (I pause and with brutally honest reflection think of the handmade paper, jewelry and fine china in my cupboards waiting for that special occasion). First, I explain to customers that soap doesn’t last forever, it loses its scent, the oils can expire and it can even shrink a little. Second, I suggest “buy two!” one to use right away and one to leave in your cupboard for ‘good’. More often than not, repeat customers break into their second bar stash and come back for more soap to have on hand. Third, there is always the camera phone, take a picture or visit my site to bask in the memoires of the soap you just finished or to re-order.
So heading into 2018 what is my new year’s resolution? To use that cutting board already! Wear the jewelry and dig that handmade paper out of the box to use. I plan to not only enjoy the beauty of the objects around me but make better use of them to enrich my daily life.
Lucky for us, functional art is far from being limited, there is always something new to discover and love! -C-