The History of Arts and Crafts

Topics: Arts and Crafts Movement, Design, Graphic design Pages: 14 (5528 words) Published: September 6, 2000
ØThe distinction between ‘Craft' and ‘Design' can be at times problematic explain what you understand these terms to mean, and illustrate their application in relationship to the work of one practitioner.

The definition for craft is, the making of decorative or functional objects, generally by hand. Hand and power tools may be used, however, in making some craft items. The term crafts also refers to the objects made. The function of crafts is generally concerned with crafts as creative hobbies, practiced primarily in the home with a minimum of specialized equipment. Crafts as so defined, have certain functions. In a world that is becoming increasingly mechanized and standardized, they give people the opportunity to work with their hands and to express their individuality. Crafts also are often used in occupational therapy; for example, a patient might be taught a craft to develop weakened muscles or to help in gaining use of an artificial limb. An emotionally disturbed person might be taught a craft that would serve as an outlet for feelings. Craftwork also provides the disabled with purposeful activity that diverts attention from their handicaps. Many hobbyists find themselves going into business. A craftsperson who perhaps has at first sold craft items only to friends or at local bazaars may find that increased demand leads to a wider clientele and sales by mail order, at crafts fairs, or through a shop. There is a fine line of distinction between crafts produced by amateur hobbyists for their personal satisfaction and crafts that in the hands of gifted artisans approach or can be considered art forms, generally made with a view toward the use and enjoyment of others. The difference between hobby-produced crafts and formal decorative art objects lies in the degree of innovation in form and technique and in the intention of the artisan. Crafts can be grouped by technique or medium. Under the headings that follow are brief descriptions of some of those crafts most popular with hobbyists today, with indications of the degree of skill and basic equipment required.

The type of craft that I will be studying is known as handicraft. Strictly speaking, handicrafts are occupations that involve making usable or decorative products by hand. Before the Industrial Revolution all such products were handmade, often in the home. The age of the machine nearly did away with the traditional crafts by fostering mass production. During the mid-19th century, however, a reaction against the machine took place in Great Britain. Called the Arts and Crafts Movement, it urged a new appreciation for decorative, handmade products. The movement did a great deal to bring about today's interest in handicrafts, often as a hobby, for limited production of quality goods. Whether as a hobby or a vocation, handicrafts encompass activities that require a variety of skills. They also usually require some equipment and, because they do, the term handicraft may seem misleading. Knitting, for example, requires the use of needles.

Among the common handicrafts are model building, needlework, lace making, pottery, woodworking, scrimshaw (whale- and walrus-bone carving), ornamental metalworking, glassblowing, and the making of stained glass, jewellery, and mosaics. Handicrafts as a hobby have become a major industry. There are packaged kits for models of ships, automobiles, airplanes, rockets, military vehicles, human anatomy, birds, and animals; painting; mosaics; needlepoint; embroidery; and crafts that use plastics, wood, leather, textiles, metal, cork, wool, yard goods, and laces. Kits for chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy, and the earth sciences represent the sciences. Some hobbyists reject the use of kits as too commercial. They use their own materials, often-discarded goods, for their craft. A quilt, for instance, can be made from squares of colourful cloth sewed together. Rugs can be made on a handloom from old rags. Newspapers,...
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