James Crampton…could he be more charming?

I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Jim yet…but just look at what was in our mailbox this morning, you’ll see why we love him already!  His casual communication style belies his wonderful professionalism and attention to detail.  We’re thrilled to have him on the Faculty of the College this year.

Hi Fiber College Facilitators!
I must begin by apologizing for my tardiness in responding to your queries.  I should be used to the hectic summer schedule that happens every year at this time, but hey, I’m only 52, I should have it all figured out in a couple more years.  The other problem I have is that I just don’t like talking about myself.  No matter what happens it comes off as pompous and arrogant, or aloof and indifferent, or just plain stupid and apathetic.  I will make an awkward attempt to describe my inspiration and creative need at the risk of looking like an idiot.
cramptonboxesI should begin by explaining that I’ll be teaching, or better yet, directing a class on small box making.  The idea is that you, the student, brings in an idea for a box that you want to make, or a piece of wood that that in it’s natural beauty has inspired you to see it’s endless possibilities.  My job is to suggest any number of techniques and approaches to help you meet your end goal, in this case, a small box.
Don’t get caught up in the words, “a small box”.  The one question I’m asked the most is “what is this box for?”   The easy response is “whatever fits in it.” or you can get more specialized and say “it’s a stamp box” or “an earring box”.  The truth is you can put really big things in small boxes, and no, I’m not talking diamonds.  As a young boy I was intrigued by the idea of treasure, and over the years I managed to collect an incredible array that would boggle the mind.  Things I squirreled away into a small box that, lo and behold, I still have today.  You’re probably thinking “Wow!  Let’s check it out!”  The truth is that if you saw it, you would say ” What a ridiculous bunch of junk!”  In my eyes however, each one of those silly trinkets represents a moment of time, plucked from my memory.  So while this small box may only hold a flimsy cracker jack trinket, to me it holds a piece of my life frozen in time.  At my age, that’s a really big thing for such a tiny box!
cramptonboxestwoDon’t call me an artist, I’ve grown to dislike the title.  I’ve spent most of my life involved in one art form or another and for a long time wanted nothing more than to be an artist.  One day I heard someone describe an artist as one who sits in a coffee shop drinking endless cups of coffee and chain smoking cigarettes while trying to convince the world that they’re just so far ahead of their time that no one can understand or appreciate the work they’re doing.  I’m not an artist, I just like to make stuff.  Unfortunately you don’t get a real good reception when you walk into a gallery and say, ” Hi, I’m Jim and I’m a Fidgeter”.
The other thing that I get a lot doing various shows is “You do beautiful work.”  While I love to hear this and find it inspiring and rejuvenating, the fact is I’m only enhancing what was already there.  As a woodworker I can utilize a vast array of techniques and tools, and as an artist( guy who likes to make stuff), I may be able to recognize a beauty within, but the reality is that the beauty was there all along.  cramptonboxesthreeYou can attribute it to what ever name you want, but the beauty that exists in nature is unparalleled to anything any artist could ever achieve.  I just take what was already there in it’s rough form, polish it up a little, put on a hinge and some magnets and then I have the unmitigated gall to call it something I’ve made.
I don’t know if this is what you were looking for, and the truth is you’re probably sorry you asked by now, but this is basically how I approach what I do.  I hope you’ll find it interesting and inspiring and if you’re also a person who likes to make stuff, grab a gnarly stick, bring it to Fiber College, and we’ll polish “er up!
Thanks for your time!
Jim Crampton

One thought on “James Crampton…could he be more charming?

  1. Jim Crampton:

    I have seen some of your boxes in our local gift shop, Long River Studios, in Lyme, NH. They are exquisite, but the thing that really got me is the tiny magnets you use to shut the lids. I work with gourds, and often have a section that lifts, or swings, open, and usually have a problem figuring out how to keep it shut. I would very much appreciate the name and address of your source for these, if it’s not a trade secret.

    Wishing you a healthy and prosperous New Year.

    Beverly K. Strout
    PO Box 156
    Lyme, NH 03768

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