The Workshop Has Always Been the Craftsman’s Home

The other day, I was talking about the fact that you often need to have something like a workshop – or a studio or a laboratory – in place before you really get serious about that hobby, side-hustle or passion project you’ve been thinking about for so long.

I said that a workshop can be portable or permanent, but having one… revamping your current workspace, or setting up some arrangement so that you feel like you have one, will help you learn and grow in different ways.

I want to drop a few more ideas into your brain about workshops. Here’s the first:

  • The workshop has always been the craftsman’s home. 

This has been true since ancient times. Literally true. Traditionally, the home and the workshop were one.

And keep in mind, this workshop was not – is not – a factory. Rather, it’s a place where labour and life mixed face-to-face. 

Workshops are often small in terms of size and a good place to be. Is it any wonder then that you’d rather spend all of your time there?

Here’s the second thing:

  • The workshop has always been a sacred place.

Early medieval craftsmanship found a home in the walled monastery and secluded nunnery. 

It’s a fact that many of history’s great scientific discoveries, innovations and works of art needed a special kind of silence and stillness.

In these often isolated mountain refuges, men and women learned and practised all kinds of arts, crafts and traditional practices. 

Some of these places were largely self-sufficient and sustainable communities. You might have found people gardening, doing carpentry, practising medicine, weaving, sewing and brewing alcohol. 

At my grandparents’ house, my grandfather’s workshop was outside in a separate shed. 

But it was only a few metres from my grandmother’s kitchen and the fresh scones and banana cake that was always being baked.

There was always time for food and drink and a chat.

And this brings me to the third point. 

  • Workshops, both ancient and modern, have glued people together through sacred rituals.

Sacred rituals…? What does this look like then? 

  • The shared cup of tea or coffee.
  • Catching up on the news.
  • Sharing information.
  • Mentoring
  • Taking on parental roles.
  • Giving advice, workplace or otherwise.
  • Learning or teaching new skills.
  • Working on something together for a common purpose.

Some of this we try to do online but my challenge to you is this:

  1. Think about experiences where you felt BOTH the workshop (or lab or studio) AND “at home” vibe.
  2. Start experimenting with how to reproduce and amplify this in your own life and the lives of others now.

And if that pushes all your buttons, there’s more on this in my eBook on Craftsmanship.

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

Leave a Reply