The agrarian philosopher Wendell Berry once said that “a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist.” In today's rapidly warming world, agricultural craftsmanship is more challenging than ever. That's why we've dedicated our inaugural issue to some innovative farmers who are working to redefine sustainability, in order to save your grandchildren's food supply.
As the world gets hotter and drier, we have a unique opportunity: Start growing drought-friendly foods, and enjoy the ignored but luscious methods of cooking they inspire. Welcome to our examination of this sorely neglected frontier, along with explorations of several entirely different topics.
While experiments are at the heart of inspiration in music, some of the discipline’s artists push the boundaries more than others. In this issue, we introduce you to a collection of master innovators who have tinkered in corners of the music world that we rarely hear about. You will also meet a master of theatrical puppets, and a vegetable detective obsessing about a toxic "perfect storm."
Something about alcohol seems to inspire creativity. American rum, Mexican mezcal, even our old friend, wine, are each being re-invented. Some of these innovations are purely hedonistic, while some are driven by the limits of our natural resources. Our Fall issue also introduces you to artisans dedicated to the perfect Italian shoe; the traditions of letterpress printing; and a new, quintessentially American approach to the bonsai tree.
The holidays can make us feel like we’re filling our lives with more junk, so this issue focuses on real toys: building kits for girls, toy theatres, and the outlandish masks that inspire Venice’s legendary Carnival. We also follow a master kitchen knife maker as he discovers the secrets of steel, a Mexican community that’s sustaining its 500-year history of craftsmanship, and the burgeoning revolution in (wait for it) shaving gear. And, of course, an artisanal gift guide.
You see it everywhere now—in tags and marketing campaigns for everything from wallets to clothes to cars. If it’s “Made in America,” by definition it’s supposed to be good, if not superior to foreign competitors. But is it really? Many of these products require skills that virtually disappeared from the American landscape decades ago. In this issue of Craftsmanship, we examine what it takes to retrieve those skills—in a form that’s built to last. We also visit a New Yorker cartoonist, and a gang of science nerds seeking new frontiers with craft beer.
Now that the heat of summer has finally arrived, we can’t help thinking about the craftsmanship of fun. Seriously. To that happy end, we dedicate this issue, first, to a romp through the world of fine bicycles and some efforts to preserve their traditions. Then we move into a few unusual fish tales, and a tell-all visit with an Italian master of gelato, the world’s ultimate frozen treat. What’s not to love about summer?
Over the years, the time that both children and adults devote to playing with real stuff—cardboard and crayons, hammers and nails, leather and machine parts—has dwindled almost to extinction. In our Fall issue, we visit people who are bucking this trend. In Cuba, at the shops of the inventeros, tinkering has been the key to their survival. In Rhode Island, at a handful of “loose parts” playgrounds, children are learning more durable lessons than they would on a screen. And our topics this issue don’t stop there.
With U.S. commitments to managing climate change wobbling under the new administration, the time for innovation at what is literally the world’s grass roots is upon us. Come meet a collection of fascinating water pioneers—in Australia, Brazil, the American West, and other parched corners of the globe. We also compare vermouth masters on two continents, profile a man rescuing lost films, and bring you our second annual holiday gift guide. All fun. We promise.
In today’s overwrought political climate, both in the U.S. and abroad, it sometimes seems as though our capacity for intelligent dialogue has disappeared. Mystified by this trend, we dedicate this issue to how we use language—to understand one another, to record history, and to define our spiritual faith. In our second section, we explore a Venetian island where fine lace is still made by hand; and, for your summer planning, offer a guide to the best craftsmanship schools and workshops.
In the peak of summer, what’s better than a slow-cooked meal, cold beer, and fine ice cream? To answer that question, we’re revisiting some of our favorite masters of food and libations. We begin with three: Paula Wolfert, who introduced the West to the magic of old-world clay-pot cooking; the boys of Method Beer, who are pushing the limits of alcohol science; and Andrea Soban, a master gelatiere from gelato’s birthplace--the mountains of Northern Italy. More coming soon.