Neo Tramp Art – Misconceptions become truths. A Tramp Jungle event following the soul and ideology of the 19th Century Tramp Art phenomenon.

An open event at SoupaNatural by Jeremy Walton,

I shall be making Neo Tramp Art, a lampshade following the soul and ideology of the 19th Century Tramp Art phenomenon. Using commonly found and readily available tools and materials, combined with self invented techniques, I shall be making design creations that rejoice commitment more than perfection. The Jungle will be at: SoupaNatural.Guldbergsgade 7a. near Skt. Hans torv. The Making commences from 9am and aims to be finished and hung up before 6pm. Thursday the 26th of March 2009.

The original Tramps lived, worked and moved between what they called Jungles. The making of Neo Tramp Art shall take place in a soup bar, which will act as the Jungle for the day. In true Tramp Art fashion the technique and making of the lampshade is for sharing.

People visiting the jungle on the day will be welcome to help in the making of the shade and learn how they can make their own Neo Tramp Art.

The Craft eBook is available at www.designyoumake.com Download and make your own, speed it up by inviting some friends around for coffee. Turn your kitchen into your local Tramp Art Jungle.



Some unsubstantiated misconceptions about original Tramp Art by Jeremy Walton. Adding to the gossip and hearsay, where misconceptions become truths.

Tramp Art of the 19th century is an American phenomenon, but the techniques are said to originate from Germany and Scandinavia, introduced in the early 1860s by wandering apprentices (Wanderbuersons). While examples of their work can be found in America, I have yet to find any examples originating from Denmark. Not even a single knife notch.

Come on Denmark, I know that they have been overlooked or even deleted from Danish history, amidst the perfect hum of industry. Plucked out like weeds from amongst the clean roots of so called taste.

You can try all you like to pass the buck on to Germany or Norway, but these were folk of the wandering kind and they could not have travelled between Norway and Germany without spending some amount of time in between. (I have neither found reference to them in Germany or any part of Scandinavia, as of yet)

To disown these so called folk artists is a loss. These Tramps and Hobos have similarities with modern day designers and crafts people. They were trained Tinsmiths, Carpenters and Blacksmiths etc. They worked between different clients. Hobos sought commercial work more so than Tramps. Tramps would see any paid work as a means to finance their own personal creations. Tramps creations were of functional use, such as chairs, tables, boxes.

Tramps being of the wandering kind were the net surfers of their day. Living in camps, known as Jungles, they would share and pass on news and thoughts. They would discuss politics, society and who has built the most impressive box. These people I would describe as being like trees, with their roots in passed on traditions and skills, a solid trunk of originality and independence continuously taking on new layers and lastly, the top bushy part, reaching out into many different facets of society, communicating and intertwining with others and absorbing. They were model designers a long time before the distraction of industry.

These Trampers are possibly the Great Great Grandfathers of sustainable design. They focused on objects of function and utility, developed new techniques, used available resources to good effect (most commonly being the reuse of wooden cigar boxes) and broke with tradition to create their own unique and individual designs.

Who knows in 200 years time America may choose to overlook the episode and principals of Raymond Lowery and delete that from the history hard disc.

“That? Here! No, we have never done anything like That! Not here”. Says the librarian.

Maybe it is true, maybe Denmark can’t lay any claim to these Great Great Grandfathers of design. It could be a German and most probably a Norwegian that developed the penknife carving technique while they were on the boat travelling to America. Yet, is that not an even better example of design ingenuity, which should not only be filed under folk art, but given a place in design history.

What is more, these two tramps on the boat came up with the ingenious marketing ploy of selling their technique as being all the rage in Germany and Scandinavia. It has taken over 200 years for that truth to be questioned.

I am loving these tramps even more.

Jeremy Walton

Read more at www.designyoumake.com about how Folk Art predates sustainable design thinking. 

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