Almost every profession has involved some system of apprenticeship, and mastery rarely occurs without it. While some countries have kept this time-honored tradition alive, others have let it fade. We look across the globe at how some traditions in craftsmanship are trying to remain alive, often through various approaches to apprenticeship. We also dive into a few different subjects, like the anatomy of stand-up comedy.
Nand Kishore Chaudhary has built one of India’s most successful handmade carpet ventures by forging close ties to a community that most businesses on the continent shun: the poor, largely uneducated caste of citizens long referred to as “Untouchables.” To help his business grow, he’s also had to develop an apprenticeship system around India’s chronic battles with child labor. To Chaudhary, navigating these issues is the only way to honor the true meaning of sustainability. During a visit to the Jaipur Rugs company, our correspondent tries to figure out how all these pieces come together.
By CATHRYN JAKOBSON RAMIN
Amidst political discussion about expanding apprenticeships in the U.S., two contradictory realities persist. One is a changing landscape, in both school and work, that increasingly needs a sound apprenticeship system; the other is the refusal by many parents to understand why a formal apprenticeship might make more sense for their children—and their finances—than four years of college.
Written by TODD OPPENHEIMER
While Japanese master craftsmen command up to $100,000 for turning bamboo into a fishing pole, aspiring younger makers can barely find anyone to take them on as apprentices. And this isn’t the only time-honored Japanese craft at the brink of extinction. How could this happen in a country that, for centuries, has served as a model of hand-made perfection?
Story and photography by YUKARI IWATANI KANE
Other Topics In This Issue
For 15 years, the world’s folk art makers and enthusiasts have gathered, en masse, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to celebrate the possible when it comes to indigenous craftsmanship. This summer, in just three days, some 21,000 people spent $3.3 million to show that traditional artisans still matter.
Story by DEBORAH BUSEMEYER
Photography by KITTY LEAKEN
When you watch masterful stand-up comics perform, it seems like they are just naturally hilarious. Don’t kid yourself. This is hard work, requiring hours and hours of trial and error. To its masters, the art of comedy is a craft, not unlike the careful, step-by-step work required to make a fine piece of furniture.
By DAVID MUNRO