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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.

New Mexico’s Modern Saint-Makers

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…

Do the Most Interesting Musical Pipes Come from Ireland?

While Scotland is branded by its famous Highland bagpipes, Ireland has long made a very different kind that plays a much wider range of music. Meet the indefatigable, obsessive masters of Irish uilleann pipes.

The Hidden Powers of The Forcola

How can a single oar give orders to a 36-foot boat that weighs 350 kilos (772 pounds) and why does the gondola obey? The answer is the forcola (FOUR-koh-la), the gondola’s oarlock, which is characterized by a unique, serpentine shape…

Building a Gondola

Fall 2020

Venice, Gondolas, and Black Magic

After suffering a year of twin terrors—historic floods and the Covid pandemic—the makers of Venice’s legendary gondolas are struggling to survive. To understand the unique design, history, and mystery behind this much-loved boat, our correspondent spent a year with Roberto Dei Rossi, one of the city’s last master gondola makers.

By ERLA ZWINGLE

The Living Traditions of the Chumash Tribe

Once a maritime people, the Chumash inhabited the Santa Barbara coast and the Channel Islands for at least 13,000 years before their population was decimated, first by the Spanish, then the Mexicans, and finally by more European settlers. Today the…

Fall 2020

The Lost Art of Traditional Bow Hunting

Over the years, the technology for rifles, scopes, and other hunting gear has gotten so powerful there’s little challenge left in the sport. Hunting with a bow and arrow, therefore, has been steadily rising. But now that even hunting bows have gone high-tech, a small band of purists — like Gabriel Miossi — have turned to a traditional Native American weapon: the stick bow.

By MEGHAN WARD

Japan’s Gorgeous, Precarious Fishing Poles

Japanese master craftsmen can command up to $100,000 for turning bamboo into a fishing pole. Yet, this time-honored craft is at the brink of extinction — and it’s not the only one. How could this happen in a country that,…

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