Enjoying crafts

What is crafts?

Generally speaking, crafts developed historically within specific trades. Some people still refer to craftsmen by their old-fashioned name, artisan. However, the term craft - in the sense of something that is conducted with skill to earn a living - became the norm from the late Middle Ages. In the past, craftspeople tended to do skilled work on their own, or in small groups, to produce items for sale. Examples include weavers, glove makers and seamstresses. These crafts developed into trades and, sometimes, guilds. During the industrial revolution, many of these crafts were mechanised and automated. However, crafts continued to be conducted, sometimes to produce bespoke items and sometimes simply because they were considered hobbies.

 What is a handicraft?

A handicraft is a type of craft that is conducted by hand or with only simple hand tools, such as a bridle or a pair of knitting needles. What is produced by handicrafts is generally considered to be for personal use rather than for mass production. As such, all items that are made by craftspeople will be unique even if the same overall design is being reproduced. In some places around the globe where industrialisation is not as developed as it is in the west, the majority of items that are made in communities continue to be handicrafts. In some cases, they are sold for the tourist market, but in others, they are almost exclusively made for their community to use.

Which crafts were popularised by the Arts and Crafts movement?

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, some social experiments were put in place which tried to get back to a form of localised production that did not rely on the mass production techniques employed in factories. Chief among them was the English Arts and Crafts movement, pioneered by John Ruskin and William Morris. It was soon echoed in North America and Japan. The exponents of this movement favoured individualised decoration and applied it to crafts as diverse as pottery, woodturning, cabinet making, metalwork, glass blowing and weaving. Items produced in this period are still much sought after.

Which crafts can you take up at home as a hobby?

Some of the simplest crafts which require very little equipment are the best ones to take up as hobbies. Knitting and crochet are both increasingly popular and even trendy in some places. Tatting is another one that is less well-known but produces similar results. Painting items made from pottery is another craft that will allow you to show off your arty side. If all you have is old scraps of paper, the art of decoupage is another good one to try out.

What type of crafts are suited to children?

Anything that involves a bit of creativity and artiness constitutes a good craft for little ones to get involved with. Making collages from cut out pieces of paper is always something children can get into, especially if they are encouraged to try out different patterns before sticking their paper in place. Older children are likely to enjoy macramé, a handicraft that uses knots to form decorative textiles.

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