Centuries ago, a fleet of rowboats called Whitehalls plied the waters of the San Francisco Bay, helping the chandlers at their helms ferry goods to and from the giant sailing ships working the city’s port. Today, descendants of those early crafts are being built, rowed, and occasionally put to work on the same waters.
You’ve read the news: traditional 9-5 jobs are in decline; a patchwork, “gig economy” of contract workers is rushing in to take their place; and colleges can’t keep up with these changes. The resulting chaos creates at least one unaddressed challenge: In a world with fewer shared ladders for advancement, how do tomorrow’s workers build pathways to success?
Just like cars, today’s motorcycles have become dizzying assemblages of electronic connections—invisible to most riders, inscrutable to many mechanics. The more high-tech these machines become, the more there is to love about classic, old bikes. Among the simplest of the pack are the Japanese motorcycles of the 1970s, particularly the Hondas. They’re also among the most loved, and that’s exactly what keeps Dave Stefani in business.
If you’re tired of smelling like everyone else when you go out on the town, you can finally say ‘No’ to the big perfume houses, and their over-priced synthetic scents. In a growing number of kitchen labs and small shops around the globe, small-scale perfume artists are bottling a world of intoxicating new scents. Some seem to give new meaning to the concept of time travel.
Every few years, discussions about using straw as a building material, in bale form, come up again. Now, as our environmental challenges mount—from wildfires to hurricanes—straw bales seem to offer an answer to a good many of them. As we step into October, and the one-year anniversary of Northern California’s first wave of historic fires, it’s time to ask: Has the straw bale’s time finally come?
Almost hidden on a funky old pier along San Francisco’s waterfront, Autodesk, a world leader in digital tools for makers, is running a prototype shop that seems more like a high-tech playground for grown-ups. In between contracts to make, say, a steel ship propeller with a massive 3-D printer, the company takes in sculptors, engineers, and architects who are pushing the boundaries of their own work. The effect of all this energy is a level of innovation that is expanding—and perhaps redefining—the meaning of craftsmanship.
As the job landscape changes, opportunities open for some and close for others. Since 2010, Kelly Carlisle has been trying to build options for youngsters in East Oakland–using an urban farm to inspire them to engage with the world as curious citizens. “Part of my work,” she says, “is to make sure we expand their worldview.”
While the fashion industry continues to produce more and more clothing made from synthetics, with all their harmful effects, we’ve ignored the wonders of wool. The material is natural, durable, and endlessly renewable; more important, its creators (the sheep) can help regenerate the world’s drying, fire-prone landscapes. Fortunately, a wool revival seems to be underway.
A year ago, we published the first guide to America’s best residential summer workshops for a variety of crafts, from woodworking and glass blowing to pottery and boatbuilding. In the process, we discovered a range of craftsmanship’s rising stars. Meet three of them: Maria Zamudio, “Rocky” Boikanyo, and Angela Robins.