These tool trays are from the Florence School of Leather; the craftsman there study for years to master the ability to develop beautiful creations. The work they do is amazing, and yet the school is challenged in finding Italians who want to learn this craft. The younger generation wants work with a guaranteed income upon graduation, and this centuries old craft does not always translate into a lucrative career. The money will come once a reputation and body of work is established, and that takes more time than most people want to invest. So the school reached beyond their own borders and now teach students from across the globe. The artists we observed were women from Japan and Korea, with more to follow in the next year.
Things are changing all around us, sometimes more than we care to admit. We have two choices, change or get left behind. Instead of whining about low enrollments the Leather School found a way to attract people from other lands in order to keep the craft alive. There is wisdom in knowing when what you are doing isn’t working, and courage in trying something new.
But as humans we are creatures of habit. When we find something that works we stick to it, and add it to our comfort zone. We then do it so much that we forget what life was like before we had that habit. The thought of changing it becomes unthinkable. The thought of having to learn something new makes us tired. And yet if we never learn anything new nothing changes. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?
When I watched the Japanese craftswoman wielding her hammer I admired her courage to learn something new. From a foreign land she picked up these tools and worked to create a new life for herself and the generations that will follow in her footsteps. She chose to change and learn and experience a life that revolves around a new tool set. She put her old habits aside to develop new ones. She had the courage to learn a new craft, change her life, and live in a workshop full of generations of traditions.