Monthly Archives: January 2012

A Brief History of Crafts

Although commodities have been present in our communities for a number of years, it seems that more Americans, both old and young alike, are moving away from purchasing massed-produced items and are seeking out one-of-a-kind, made-in-America crafts that are no longer commodities, but pieces of art.

Truth of the matter is that we don’t need to make or buy crafts in order to survive. However, by purchasing a craft item from a show like the American Craft Exposition, you’re helping American artists make a livable wage and supporting ovarian cancer research.

Jewelry by Kathy Saitelbach

Craft is a profession that requires skilled work and specialized knowledge. Indeed, it can take years until a craft artist becomes a master in their area. In the 17th century, you would be hard pressed to find two wooden bowls or pieces of jewelry that are the exact same because individuals made a truly livable wage from selling or trading their craft.

So what happened? The industrial revolution happened, that’s what. And at this point in history, goods were standardized and individuals were placed in their respective divisions of labor so that each bowl produced looked no different from the rest and were more affordable for the mass. A consequence of this cheaply produced item is not only the artist being removed from their work, but the low wages of outsourced workers. And suddenly, too, everyone on your block owns the exact same wooden bowl and piece of jewelry.

A Fiber Wearable Piece by Tregea Bevan

As the industrial life created increased anxieties about alienating labor and a distance from the artist and their product, artists around the world gave birth to an Arts and Crafts movement in the late 19th century that sought to put an end to that division of labor and instead, promote the artist to a craftsman.

Although the Arts and Crafts movement has ended, as defined by history books, it’s continuously being re-hatched, re-worked and re-invented and we feel its presence ever more in today’s society, especially at the American Craft Exposition.

Speaking of crafts made-in-America being re-invented…

Artists – Don’t forget that artists’ applications for the 28th annual ACE are due on March 2, 2012!

Jewelry by Lilly Fitzgerald

General Public – While we don’t need to buy crafts in order to survive, we can help artists make a livable wage and support ovarian cancer research! Save-the-date and join us for the 28th annual ACE show August 23 – 26, 2012!