My brother is a wacky painter. A lot of his art is filled with blurry faces and unfinished bodies. Some of his paintings show finer techniques, but he says he prefers to take a “messy approach” to potentially achieve a more creative result than “something that matches a couch.” Being proficient at the nuts and bolts of his craft allows him to take leaps that are sometimes incredibly moving and sometimes just plain…messy.
The same is true of marine fabrication. This issue celebrates the nuts and bolts of the craft as well as the results of taking creative risks. The 2023 MFA Fabrication Excellence Awards celebrate the highest levels of marine craftsmanship, and the winning projects feature the skills and out-of-the-box thinking required to achieve this level of excellence. We profile Mike Charlton, Charlton’s Marine Canvas, a 2023 MFA Excellence Award winner and someone who embraces the idea of taking creative risks in both his craft and his approach to running a marine shop. The feature “Made for the Shade” explores innovative shade solutions that meet evolving consumer needs and boat designs.
John LeMole, MFC, Gemini Marine Canvas & Marine Products, another 2023 MFA Excellence Award winner, discusses how to install rigid solar panels using elegant techniques, and Russ Griffin, Northcoast Marine Specialties LLC, discusses the nuts and bolts of selecting the right foam for upholstery projects.
At the MFA Conference in New Orleans in January, I was struck by the creative energy of everyone participating. I hope we all feel inspired to take “messy” creative risks this year by aiming at personal and professional goals that propel all of us to excellence. As the poet T.S. Eliot said, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”