Accepted paper:

Craft of factory work

Authors:

Ewa Klekot (University of Warsaw)

Paper short abstract:

Several stages of industrial production of a porcelain item require what can be easily called “craft”. The paper, based on my on-going research project in a fine porcelain plant in Ćmielów, will scrutinize different types of factory work, focusing on skills and embodied knowledge of workers.

Paper long abstract:

Ceramics can be art, craft and industrial production. The porcelain factory in Ćmielów, Poland is more than 150 years old and located in a region with long pottery tradition. Nowadays it is one of the few fine porcelain factories operating in Europe. Apart from the industrial production line it has a design studio, which also works a small ceramic manufacture. Several stages of industrial prodcution process resulting in a porcelain item we get in a shop require what can be easily called "craft". In the paper, based on my on-going research project in Ćmielów, I would like to scrutinize different types of factory work in a porcelain plant, focusing on skills and embodied knowledge of workers. The main focus, however, will be on the extremely sophisticated craft of translating a design, usually provided in form of a drawing, into an industrially producible item by making a model and a form for casting. I would like to ponder over the observation that the model-makers I met in Ćmielów factory were the most frustrated group of its workers. In de-industrializing West industrial buildings, emptied of installations, have been heritagized or rehabilitated and re-used for other purposes, often related to cultural production sphere. Factory work has never been conceptualized as heritagizable, though. Yet sometimes it requires skills as sophisticated as the skills of an artisan. In the factory world of humans and non-humans working together craft is a distinctively human feature.

panel Mat03
Dwelling in craft