Friday, August 21, 2009

What is a Crafter

The term ‘crafter’ is a more modern term but truly the same meaning as historical ‘craftsman’. Historically, it was said that what a man did for his livelihood, was his craft.
So what is a craft? Actually it’s anything that produces items of worth:buildings;vehicles;horse shoes or harnesses;clothing;shoes;hats;toys;plumbing, and so forth.
Today, we seem to have taken on the specialized term of crafter, to mean someone who creates with their own hands, as though only decorative items could possibly be a craft.
The truth is a flooring man is a crafter (or craftsman), as is a plumber. This is their craft.
There is the modern day argument about what is art and what is craft. Art has nothing to do with life necessities. It does not produce utilitarian products. Art is appealing to the eye and can be applied to just about anything, including a craft. Art is entertainment, while craft produces something of need.
To answer the modern day argument, if you make a quilt or ceramics or even wooden toys, you are both a crafter and an artist, simply because you apply eye appealing design. An artist can enhance your craft but cannot produce a self sustaining useful product.
I can produce a water pitcher but until I also apply art, there is nothing unique about it. If you were not both a craftsman and an artist, you would not be sitting at craft shows. If you did not also apply art to your woodwork, what would you be offering that didn’t look just like everyone else’s?
To view yourself as any sort of crafter, aside from other needful crafts, is to think yourself a hobbiest. This, you are not, because you craft with the intent to sell.
So to know whether you are a ‘crafter’ or an ‘artist’, simply ask yourself if you produce a necessity in life. Do you produce pretty shelf sitters? That’s an art. Do you produce quilts? That a craft.
Utilitarian is the dividing line. The shoes are utilitarian, the color is not. The bowl is utilitarian, the painted design is not. The wooden wall hanging is not.
Anything produced only for the decorative value, is art. Anything produced for utilitarian purposes is a craft.
pictures of any sort
wall hangings
garden decor
applied decoration
crochet as in doilies
tatting unless to be worn
crochet (to be worn)
utilitarian ceramics
weaving (rugs and clothing)
shoe maker
clothing manufacturer
and so forth
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Michelle Sholund said...

I can't agree with your assessment. "Do you produce pretty shelf sitters?" Ouch. That is what you call art? So, those who do metalsmithing (working in silver and gold) make things that are "trivial" or how about woodworkers who specialize in making contemporary furniture? I suggest looking up the Buyers Market For American Craft - and you may find the term "craft" isn't exactly how you outline it. Don't get me wrong, I feel you are not off base, just feel your view is a little narrow. I am a Craft Artist, not a crafter. The first thing I think of when I see "crafter" is "grandma-crafts" and I feel there are different levels of "crafts". Thanks for your time, and do wish you well with your blog.

judy said...

I was speaking historically. The term 'craft' has been so perverted that today, there are arguments about what it is and means. This is an example of that.

I may need to change my terms, to meet the needs of today, but that doesn't change the true meanings of things.

In times past, baking was a craft, sewing was a craft (regardless of what level of output), breaking a horse was a craft.

In other words, what a person did for a living, that required specialized knowledge, was that persons craft.

So today, to use the same terminology with the same meaning behind it, if you make shelf sitters for a living, it's a craft and if you paint artistic pictures and make a living at it, it's your craft.

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About Me

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I'm a grandmother of 1, a ceramist, a ceramic mold maker, a truck driver and writer.

I'm also a webmaster of many and have several blogs.

I help others in designing product, make custom molds and I still do restorations.