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Welcome to our Field Notes

Reports from the intersection of craft and culture: A mix of short narrative features, profiles, think pieces, and quick takes that reflect on—and beyond—our quarterly issue themes.

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Field Notes

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Shrine and the Art of Resilience

Written by MELINDA MISURACA
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June 24, 2022

Pandemic, political strife, poverty, war. In times of extreme upheaval—global or personal—can the act of art-making ease suffering and strengthen resilience? photo by Melati Citrawireja The first time I met the outsider artist known as Shrine,...

The Little Block-Printing Workshop that Could

Written by RUTH ALDEN WICKER
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April 14, 2022

“A rising tide doesn’t raise people who don’t have a boat. We have to build the boat for them. We have to give them the basic infrastructure to rise with the tide.” – Rahul Gandhi Padmini Govind awoke at 3 a.m. to...

Build Back with Beer (Craft Beer, to be Precise…)

Written by BEN SPEGGEN
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February 25, 2022

When veteran journalists James and Deborah Fallows spent four years criss-crossing the U.S. looking for what makes small-town revivals succeed, they repeatedly found one near-constant: craft breweries There are various ways to measure the civic...

Congressman John Lewis’ Artistic Side

By MELANIE EVERSLEY
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February 18, 2022

The late congressman’s civil rights legacy of “good trouble” is well-known, but his inner circle also knew him as an art lover and avid collector, particularly of works by Black artists. February 21 is the late Congressman John...

The Folk School Movement and ‘Slow Economics’

By JOANNE CLEAVER
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January 10, 2022

Rather than looking to big corporate employers for economic stability, could more rural communities welcome a less obvious, slower growing, yet more sustainable economic partner? In the far western tail of North Carolina, the road leading to the...

New Mexico’s Modern Saint-Makers

By ROSEMARY DIAZ
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April 2, 2021

The carving and painting of santos, or devotional art, is one of the oldest living folk art traditions in the U.S., dating back some 400 years. As Semana Santa (Holy Week) marks the holiest of days for millions of Christians around the globe, we...

For Lifelong Artist Kimberly Camp, Art is Life

Written by PHERALYN DOVE Photography by VELVET McNEIL
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March 5, 2021

“There’s no retirement for an artist; it’s your way of living, so there’s no end to it.” ― Henry Moore Following a long, influential career as an arts administrator, Kimberly Camp, 64, seems to be working harder than ever. And...

Can Japan’s Akiya Movement Rebuild Rural Communities?

Story by KIMBERLY HUGHES Photography by SOLVEIG BOERGEN
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July 9, 2020

While rural Japan may not be the first place one envisions as a production site for medieval and Renaissance-era instruments from Europe and Central Asia, this was precisely the craft of master instrument-builder Kōhaku Matsumoto, founder of the...

Mending: An Ancient Craft for Modern Times

By RUTH TERRY
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May 1, 2020

Mending was trending long before the Covid-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place orders changed the way we go about our days. A resurgence of so-called “domestic” handicrafts, reclaimed by feminists in the late 90s and elevated by visual artists from...

In Your Words: Making Matters, More than Ever

By CRAFTSMANSHIP EDITORS
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April 15, 2020

As part of our Spring issue theme, “Sheltering at Home Creatively”, we asked our Craftsmanship community to tell us: How has the coronavirus crisis affected your life and livelihood? Has it changed your values or priorities? Taken...

Film’s New Generation of Experimentalists

By DAVID MUNRO
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March 11, 2020

In a recent article I wrote for Craftsmanship Quarterly, “Real Film Strikes Back”, I tell the story of analog film’s surprising comeback in a motion picture industry that has become almost entirely digitized. Yet unbeknownst to most of us, there...

The Democratization of Craft

By TODD OPPENHEIMER
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October 17, 2019

Earlier this month, some 400 devotees of the arts and crafts spent three days in Philadelphia exploring the meaning of their obsessions, and the possibilities of spreading the faith. The crowd was gathered by the American Craft Council, an...

The Intelligent Hand

By Todd Oppenheimer
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June 6, 2019

For many anthropologists, their work involves delving into obscure corners of humanity’s past; for Trevor Marchand, a Canadian-born anthropology professor in England, the field offered him a way to look into the work of living master artisans,...

A Crucible for Tomorrow’s Trades

By TODD OPPENHEIMER
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April 18, 2019

The nation’s largest non-profit facility dedicated to education in the industrial arts runs out of a seemingly simple warehouse in West Oakland, California. Fittingly called The Crucible, the venture was launched in January of 1999 by a mixed...

Crafting a More Human Future

By ERLA ZWINGLE
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October 17, 2018

Exhibition “HOMO FABER” The intriguing title of this monster exhibition of European craftsmen and women, shown in Venice, Italy, during the final weeks of September, 2018, is not only clever, it’s also extremely efficient; faber translates...

Finding Your Ikigai in Craftsmanship

By ALAIN HAYES
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September 19, 2018

The Japanese have a term for what we as human beings search for in life and it’s called Ikigai, or “the meaning of life.” Many people struggle to know exactly what their purpose is, which is why it’s important to never stop...

Craftsmanship and Community

By JENNIFER BOWERS
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August 28, 2018

Connecting with like-minded makers both online and off The work of a craftsperson is precise, detailed and focused. It can also be solitary and isolating. As a hand engraver, most of my time is spent alone at my workbench, quietly focused. ...

An Inside Peek into Small Farm Life

By AMY ADAMS
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June 27, 2018

To say that “fiber farmer” Tammy White is a busy woman would be an understatement. And to only address her as a farmer would certainly not encompass the many hats she wears. Add to the list: natural dyer, shepherdess, homesteader,...

My Adventures with Gold Leaf

By CHARLIE PLANT
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June 13, 2018

When I was younger, I worked as a union painter in Los Angeles (District Council 36, Painters and Allied Trades), and in the early 1980s, I had the opportunity to work on a Bel-Air mansion that belonged to descendants of the late, great...

Catching Color in Food Waste

By AMY ADAMS
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June 1, 2018

Onion skins, avocado pits, beet root tops and used coffee grinds — all items many people think have no other use than the compost pile. But food waste can actually have a much longer shelf life, in the form of natural dyes. Natural dyeing can be...

The Vanishing Generation of Italian Shoemakers

By TRACY LALASZ FINN
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October 30, 2017

The Sustainability of an Important Craft It is commonly accepted if you are making high-end luxury shoes, the shoes are made in Italy regardless of where the brand is based, with few exceptions. Post-World War II, Italy flourished as a high-end...

New Life in the Scrap Heap

By WILL CALLAN
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October 26, 2017

Three VW Restorers Find Beauty in All the Unexpected Places Amid mounting turmoil over Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal, the company has made an announcement that should help to re-polish its old, culture-defining image. At the Frankfurt...

Why Nothing Writes Like a Fountain Pen

By TIM REDMOND
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October 7, 2017

A good fountain pen requires virtually no pressure—it just glides across the page. And the ink, which now comes in myriad colors, goes beyond creating letters. It seems to almost decorate a piece of paper. Starting off to find a fountain pen can...

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