MEANING of CRAFT – 1

Post 516  by Gautam Shah

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Craft is an activity involving skill of making things by hand. The skill of making things by hand evolves with experience. So in this sense not only the skill but resultant products continue to evolve. Craft-work could be a hobby to keep oneself engaged or a pursuit for personal satiation, and a profession for earning a livelihood. Craft activity is a personal engagement, in spite of family, clan or employees partnering it. All human activities have some element of craft-work, as some degrees of innovations are involved in routine work. The innovations relate primarily to productivity, or doing things in easier (lesser effort) manner, and in quicker way. Other efforts include efficient use of materials, working with better tools, devising superior forms, endowing new functions, safety, well being and security.

A handcraft shop Udupi India Wikipedia image by Author Vaikoovery

Elephants at Thrissur Pooram Festival Kerala, India Wikipedia image by Rajesh Kakkanatt

Craft-work allows growth of personal skills, development of physical fitness, body limb coordination, refinement of cognitive abilities, expression of thoughts and feelings, interpersonal relationships, and socio-cultural recognition. Craft is considered a stress buster activity. Craft-items, cumulatively represent both ethnicity and external influences. The craft products form a legacy of solutions that are local and time-tested, and so familiar and reliable.

: Wooden crafts for sale at the municipal market of Patzcuaro, Michoacan Wikipedia image by Author Thelmadatter

Indian stringed puppets Wikipedia image by Author Nicolás Pérez

Craft is an expression of human activity that relies on design, improvisation, enterprise, abstraction of the form, reality of functionality and compression of diverse meanings. Craft has a recognizable shape, size and existence. It persists without the creator, but has with it the flavour of the place and time of its origin. Crafts denote materials, processes and recognizing the ‘good’ (or aesthetics) things. The ‘good’ things are sought to be recreated and improved upon through new materials and processes. Routine production processes output products of consistent form and quality, like bricks, ceramic pots, etc., and are not craft’s endeavours. This means craft items are substantially varied versions of the earlier products.

Old men making handicrafts in Naqsh-e Jahan Square

Agra India artisan producing marble stone inlays wikipedia image by Author David Castor (dcastor)

Craft-items are real products where there is an intensive exploration of materials, processes and the meaning. It is not just intellectual and physical activity of making a tangible object, but also the discovery of meaning. Craft making is devoid of any absolute result or exact definitions, but rather an approximation and realization of essence. A complete piece of craft becomes an art. It is contingent, so one moves on to something else, without certainty or expectancy. It is an experience that inculcates a desire, to do something different.

Mata Ortiz pottery from Chihuahua FONART exhibition 2010 in Mexico City Wikipedia image by Author AlejandroLinaresGarcia

There are indistinct differences between the work of art and pieces of craft. The works of Art are exclusively centred on the meaning, often subjugating the materials and the processes of manipulation. The craft item is an embodiment of manipulated materials. The applied arts though manifest the materials, but do not reflect the processes of materials’ conversions. Since industrial age massive manufacturing capacities have distinguished handicrafts. Craft-items can be produced by using automated tools and other machine-based processes. This has created some categorizations of folk-crafts, country-crafts and tribal crafts.

Basket weaving Cameroon Wikipedia image by Author ymea Permission (Reusing this file) CC-BY-SA. Autorization by OTRS (ticket n° 2006062110007771).

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