Like Wall Paper, Your Woody Boat Is Pure Art.

Thayer IV is pure art!

I know this is a subject we keep beating the drum on over and over again. But a comment a while back in one of the stories last week sparked a different take on the subject. The comment from our pals at Brightworks.“We work on many boats along side mechanics and others performing functional services. They claim their work to be more important than ours (varnishing), because they allow owners to use their boats. I always say that our work makes them WANT to.”

So you may want to get a cup of coffee for this rant. It goes back to the way mankind deals with change. It’s connected to the digital revolution we are in the middle of, the industrial age and the way culture evolves. You can even reference wall paper, yes wall paper as a example of why your classic boat is pure art. I warned you, this is going to be an odd rant. So, you ask Mr Woody Boater, what in the hell does wall paper have to do with my Classic Boat.

William Morris. Credit – Wikipedia

Meet William Morris. William Morris was an artist and textile designer in Victorian England. Now, I am no art history specialist… I got a C in two years of painful art history. But small details have stuck with me, and I will no doubt butcher William Morris. And to be honest, it doesn’t matter, because the point is obvious once you see it. Anywhoo, William Morris helped start the Arts and Crafts Movement in England. It also happened in the USA with Elbert Hubbard. Once again, I will butcher all this, so google them if you want to go full geek on them. As I said the point stays the same. Here is that point.

William Morris Wallpaper

When the Industrial revolution happened, one could replicate very intricate wall paper, iron works etc in a mass production way. Intricate wall paper was easy and thus, the people that made early wall paper, the craftsman became obsolete. They were replaceable. Fine printers, silk screen artists, craftsman that built beautiful wood furniture and so on by hand, now were replaced by machines. Are you still with me. Get a second cup of coffee. We will wait.

You back? Why? Just kidding. So what happened to these people? Well, like William Morris, he said no. And made his wall paper the way it was. It’s a subtle yet profound difference. And what happened to that wall paper? It became art. Art on a wall. William Morris wall paper is art on the wall AND the people that make it became overnight artists. No longer silk screeners etc. Because they chose to do things by hand and with a human point of view. And the people buying that make the choice to buy and appreciate the art of that. This is something that occurs deep in the brain and part of what makes all of us magical and… yes, human. It’s why that dumb ass replication of the statue of liberty in Vegas is just crap, while the one in NYC is true. They look the same, but one is emotion, and one a prop.

Not NY! Not Art!

So, if I have lost you, here is how it connects to your boat and back to the mechanics comment. Today’s modern boats, stamped out in plastic forms are no different that the reams of crap wall paper produced in the millions of yards. They are disposable. Just like used wall paper and cheap Walmart furniture. It may look like its old, but was made without a soul.

It’s more of a sculpture that moves your boat and soul.

And yes, even the mechanic that is keeping your hand built engine going is an artist. That’s right. Sorry Mr Mechanic, the fact that you are will and love to keep an old engine going, when knowing that a more efficient modern engine would work better is a choice made as an artist…And to those thinking that this is about being old or new, it’s not. This comment was made on a story about Glisenti Boats and there unique design.

Glisenti ASSO

That’s art and William Morris would be proud. It’s original and hand made with a soul of an artist. So, your Woody Boat is art, no longer a boat, no longer a vessel to transport people, unless of course it is transporting you to a better place. A place were art is appreciated and respected. You may now go to bathroom and get rid of all that coffee you had to drink to stay awake during my butchered art history rant! And yes, a good butcher is an artist!


17 replies
  1. Dan T
    Dan T says:

    Years ago, l did a couple of rooms in my house with William Morris paper. Hired my brother to install it. He used the wrong glue and after about five years it all fell off. Be careful what you use to glue your boats back together.

    • Jack Schneiberg
      Jack Schneiberg says:

      I’ll tell ya! The life scenarios that show up on this site sometimes just knock me off my chair to the floor with laughter…………

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Walls and bottoms get paint, topsides and decks get varnish. Wallpaper is the picture of a boat you use as a background on your computer screen.

  3. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    The funny thing about all this for me is that in it’s day it was just the way they made things. The engine was not intended to be art with a soul it was built with the technology that was available to propel the boat.

    I still attest that if Chris C. Smith and Gar Wood were alive today they would be involved in big, fast, plastic, offshore racing boats. Speed was their game, not art.

    Photo from offshore racing dot ie (BTW this photo is named Offshore-Wallpaper)

  4. Cameron
    Cameron says:

    What about this quote :”In the late 1920s Chris Craft built in a day as many boats of one design as Ditchburn did of their best selling model in a year – and Ditchburn was then the largest motorboat builder in Canada.” from Wood & Glory
    Were all Chris Craft pure art when they were mass produced (ref plaid apholstery discussion ) or have they gained their soul over time?

  5. Craig
    Craig says:

    I Agree…but some some fiberglass boats are also art…due, perhaps, to their complexity, impracticality, or just plain flare.

    The construction method can create art…but so can other qualities.

    No different than an early 911 or XKE or 1967 Corvette.

    1967 Century Arabian
    1970 Nova24VDrive
    1960 Century Coronado Cruisette

  6. Old Salt
    Old Salt says:

    Nice Blog today Matt! But what I really want to know is how you got Thayer IV to balance on that trailer axel so well in the gallery. Your and artist and a magician!

  7. Mo Whaler
    Mo Whaler says:

    Yes – – Nice Art – – I’m still in awe at the reflection of our Photog on Deck capturing the magic of a needed boat ride in Wecatchem’s polished chrome spotlight – – Great Job – – Matt, the living kinda sorta ‘prow figurehead’ – –

  8. John Lisicich
    John Lisicich says:

    Aloha and Happy Thursday to all! Great article today! Yes, in my humble crazy Yugoslavian opinion, they are all works of art and could stand alone in any art gallery. We love our Fairliner Torpedo and every time it is out people just stop and stare. We even had a fellow follow us once and stop us so he could see our boat. I feel like we have been entrusted as the designated caretakers of a slice of Tacoma and boating history. I love the way our boat flows like Monet painting and is as sweet as a Schubert serenade. Like the Mona Lisa, our woody boats are true works of art. The cool part is that we get to use and share our timeless art every day. How cool is that!

  9. don danenberg
    don danenberg says:

    Well no, that’s not me (though I think I saw that reflection in my mirror sometime in the 1980’s?).

    In the early 1970’s, I had a leaded glass gallery in Newport, Rhode Island, and sold my glass art in New York, Boston, and Chicago galleries. I bought my glass and research materials mostly in New York, including this book ($50).

    I still have this William Morris book if anyone is really researching him (I believe I did have a book on his wallpaper, but cannot find it tonight).

    Art is Art, you know it when you see it.

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