In the not so distant past, blacksmiths and silversmiths would strive for perfection. This was a sign of their skill. How round can you forge a bar or how shiny you can polish a piece of jewellery or forge a pair a scrolls with as perfect symmetry as possible. Traditional polishing methods would take hours as would refining detail. It was the resulting perfection that could demand a higher price.
But in the past few decades it seems to have switched around. We have the capability of generating absolute symmetry, and perfection with the use of tools controlled by computers, such as CNC machine or 3d printing, which is fast becoming the go to method in jewellery.
The AI led revolution in design causing waves a changes and making creation of artifacts quicker and with minimal input from the human. I once thought creativity would be immune from mechanization, but in the past year I have been proven wrong.
Time will tell whether there is still demand for what I do. I strive to distinguish myself from the mass production by embracing old methods. I have stopped using jigs to create perfect circles and now do them by eye, resulting in a more organic shapes... not perfectly round, but with far more character.
I have stopped filing and erasing polishing off hammer marks in my work. These are witness to the increasingly rare way in which these pieces are made.
Increasingly rare, because there are not many of us left doing this. Creativity is taught less and less in schools. As much as I would like to pass my skills on wards, I am too busy making ends meet to dedicate myself to education nor can I afford to pay living wages to an apprentice.
When young people ask me if this is a good career, I say perhaps, but it is not one many can afford. If you have inherited wealth, you can play around at creating art or do a craft. I love what I do, but I would have a better income as a kitchen porter.
That is another hidden cost of AI perfection and mass production. It gives the impression that an item is only worth so much, making it increasingly hard for people who still make things by hand to justify their prices.
I still dream of the day when I can spend months working on one single piece of jewellery, but economics of 21st century Britain make it very unlikely that I will ever create a piece of craft such as the ancient treasures that populate the museums. I live in hope though!