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Listen to “A Black Artist’s Haven on a (mostly) White Vineyard”

Martha’s Vineyard has long been seen as a summer retreat for the East Coast elite. The island’s reality, however, is a far more complex environment that has welcomed and inspired generations of Black Americans, including an artist and doll maker named Janice Frame.

Listen to “The New Sign Painters”

The commercial signs of yesteryear, which were all painted by hand, offer a kind of beauty, personality, and longevity that today’s industrial signs have been unable to duplicate. While exploring what’s left of the old sign-painting traditions, we stumbled upon small but lively seeds of revival.

Could Small Still Be Beautiful?

For a brief time in the mid-1970s, a British economist named E.F. Schumacher changed the conversation across the Western world with a daring book entitled “Small Is Beautiful.” Schumacher argued that the push for endless growth was destroying the foundations of meaningful work, and it was doomed to fail. Although Schumacher died before he could develop his ideas, a center founded in his name has tried to continue his legacy. Might his message be even more timely today?

By BRYCE T. BAUER

Listen to “Is Digital Craftsmanship an Oxymoron?”

On a funky old pier along San Francisco’s waterfront, Autodesk, a world leader in digital tools for makers, runs a futuristic prototype shop that may be redefining the meaning of craftsmanship.

An Artist Who Listens

Martha Mae Jones, a New York fabric artist, has built a rich (and financially successful) life by traveling to various countries, bouncing between art and political activism along the way. Throughout it all, she says, her creations, as well as her life choices, have come from heeding inner voices.

By MELANIE EVERSLEY

A Black Artist’s Haven on a (mostly) White Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard has long been seen as primarily a summer getaway paradise for the East Coast elite. Its reality, however, is far more complex. Dotted throughout the posh homes in this gorgeous island are substantial communities of minorities. One of the biggest and most popular, the town of Oak Bluffs, has welcomed and inspired generations of Black Americans, including an artist and doll maker named Janice Frame.

By SKIP FINLEY

Young Champions of Craftsmanship

As we inch closer to another summer, a tinkerer’s mind is likely to go looking for the chance (and the time) to build that rare, handmade item that he or she has always fantasized about. To inspire such glorious flights of fancy, last spring we created a guide—the first of its kind—to the most respected…

By NATALIE JONES

The New Sign Painters

One would think that the invention of digital lettering for our commercial signs—on everything from shops to billboards—was nothing but an industrial step forward. As it’s turned out, yesteryear’s signs, which were all painted by hand, offered a beauty and personality that today’s automated version has been unable to duplicate; more important, a hand-made sign lasts much longer. Our correspondent explores what’s left of the old tradition, and stumbles on small but lively seeds of revival.

By LAURA FRASER
Photography by ANDREW SULLIVAN

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