Reviews: The Syntax of Objects

Tom & Kay Benham
Lapidary Journal
January 2007

Over the years, Tim McCreight has built an excellent reputation as an author of instructional books for metalsmiths. These books are clearly and concisely written so even the most inexperienced novice can comprehend them. This is why we were pleasantly surprised to see Tim's latest offering, The Syntax of Objects, a departure from his usual fare, and, in our opinion, a book that rises to the level of fine literature, relating to a universal audience, not just metalsmiths. It is a quiet, reflective work that provides an introspective look at the way everyday objects stir our memories and emotions, thus influencing our lives.

Tim examines our relationships with objects, beginning with our earliest memories as infants through childhood, adulthood, and into our golden years. Most of these memories are nostalgic and universal no matter where and when we were born. He also differentiates between handmade objects have special significance because the craftsman fashions a part of himself into each of these objects, exposing his innermost thoughts and baring him to all who examine his creations.

This book is not technical, rather, it is about creativity and connections. Objects have the unique ability to create connections through time and space. We know little of ancient people except for the objects they left behind, but these relics speak volumes about their lives and loves, as well as their warfare. We, as artists, hope the objects we create in our lifetimes will be just as meaningful.

Tim explores the creative aspects of how we work, and how we often experience tunnel vision in crafting an object, we are aware only of our mind, hand, and the objects. Everything else just fades away in a blur until all our creative thoughts have transmogrified into the object. When we are finished, we often feel drained and exhausted as if we have incorporated a part of our soul into the object.

Objects communicate with us on many different levels--we can see them, smell them, hear them, and touch them. We are completely surrounded and enveloped by a multitude of objects both in the physical world and in our memories. Objects we haven't seen or touched in 50 years can immediately evoke powerful memories and intense emotions. Memories are ghosts of the past that reside in the attics of our minds hiding among the cobwebs, awaiting only the slightest cue to flood back onto the center stage of our consciousness.

The Syntax of Objects is the perfect size to tuck in your pocket or a bag to take with you on a picnic or trip to the beach--a perfect way to spend a reflective afternoon. Keep this book close at had as you'll want to revisit it often like an old friend or a fond memory.

Bead & Button Book Review
by Debb Nishihara

There are many sides to metalsmith Tim McCreight, and those of us who are lucky enough to have worked with him will gladly agree to disagree that it's his joyful, humorous, relaxed approach to living, or his mastery of tools and techniques, or his exuberant teaching style that has most influenced our lives and our art. Yet none would be surprised that the man who wrote the bible on metalsmithing fundamentals has released a quiet, contemplative book that ponders the significance of the simple objects that help us define ourselves.
Sepia-toned pinhole photography underscores Tim's journal-esque reflections with mystery rather than nostalgia. Give your hands a rest and immerse yourself.