The Making of a Craftsman – Experience

The Making of a Craftsman series explores the traits required for an apprentice to develop in order to be commissioned as a master craftsman. Every craftsperson goes through a fascinating and unique journey that develops these traits. In the fourth edition of this series, we discover that a master craftsman, as the word suggests, is an experienced technician who has proven over time to be capable and trusted to deliver consistently. We admire them for their medal-making expertise and the sacrifices made to conquer the physical and mental demands expected of them.

In the last edition, we showcased the life of an apprentice since the day he stepped into the medal-making industry. The life of an apprentice is filled with constant learning, refinement and repetition. Over time, these processes nurture excellence in his works and drives him to become the best craftsman he could be.

As an experienced worker, he has in his mind the best technique for every finishing required. His technical expertise is valued when a new medal design is required by his team and his feedback is always the first to be sought. When presented with a new design, a young craftsman requires some time to study the requirement and create prototypes before starting work. On the other hand, a master craftsman who has years of experience under his belt can instantly map out the schedule and work processes for the project. Even better, he may suggest design ideas that will take the finished product to a whole new level. At ELM, we trust each other to do our jobs to the best of our ability.

Experience and knowledge come at a price. A master craftsman takes years of consistent practice to harness his skills. To achieve mastery, craftsmen make numerous adjustments in the form of their finances, time, sleep, rest, and relationships. These sacrifices are worth it in the eyes of the master as he is driven by his passion for perfection. For example, to acquire the art of trimming a round medal, the craftsman has to spend days in the workshop practicing and perfecting the curve trimming motion by hand. On another occasion, he may be tasked to trim a star medal and has to relearn a new trimming technique. There is no shortcut when it comes to craftsmanship. It is through this never-give-up attitude that fuels his never-ending quest for perfection.

As Albert Camus, a famous philosopher quoted, ‘you cannot create experience. You must undergo it.” Simple or complicated, a master craftsman will pull through any challenges that stand in his way because he knows that he must undergo them to come out wiser and more skilled. Ironically, a master craftsman is not someone who has made it to the top of the echelon but instead, he is someone who lives out the attitude of constant learning, to become a better person than yesterday.

Today, many admire the elegant cuts and impeccable finishing of our medals, however, not many realize the years of hard work and experience put in behind the scenes by our master craftsmen. Through this series, we hope to honour our team of craftsmen who have been faithfully learning and crafting our medals for the last 50 years.