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Japan’s Gorgeous, Precarious Fishing Poles

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

A Visit to La Esquina, Mexico’s Folk Art Toy Museum

“La Esquina” Museo del Juguete Popular Mexicano, a terracotta-colored colonial house on a corner of San Miguel de Allende, is the only museum in Mexico dedicated to the country’s folk art toys. Angélica Tijerina started the collection 50 years ago, when her parents began bringing home dolls and toys from their travels all over Mexico.…

An Artisanal Tour of Michoacán — with 18 Towns Devoted to Ancient Crafts

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to find the indigenous artists outside of Pátzcuaro without a guide. We went with Jaime Hernández Balderas, from animecha tours, animechatours@yahoo.com. He is a native of Pátzcuaro, knowledgeable about the history and crafts, and speaks excellent English. Expect to pay about 2000 pesos a day for a guide ($120). Local…

The High Art of the Mask

Many cultures have enjoyed the playful freedom that one feels after donning a mask. But no place has taken it to greater extremes, both elegant and diabolical, than Venice. A tour of the world of Venetian masks, and the annual Carnival mega-party they have inspired.

Story by ERLA ZWINGLE
Photography by RICCARDO ROITER RIGONI and ERLA ZWINGLE

An Artisanal Gift Guide

Welcome to Craftsmanship’s inaugural gift guide, where we list the best (or at least the most unusual) items that we could find during our first year exploring the artisan world. Our discoveries include fine kitchen knives, cooking pottery, guitars, harmonicas, alcoholic drinks, and, of course, some real children’s toys.

By JOHN MARCOM

The Soul of the Italian Shoe

In Venice, Italy, a city built for endless walking, a determined young woman named Daniela Ghezzo has mastered the rare art of simultaneously beautifying and comforting the human foot.

Story and photography by ERLA ZWINGLE

Rum’s Revenge

In Brooklyn, a former nuclear engineer borrows from the Caribbean’s traditional methods of distilling rum, reviving America’s first spirit in the process.

By BRYCE T. BAUER

The Puppeteer

Michael Montenegro is driven to put the products of his imagination into tangible, active forms. After he builds them—often in life-size form, with a rag-tag collage of materials—he becomes them, lives inside them, then delivers them to us with a zany vigor.

By LORI ROTENBERK

The Cigar Box Guitar Maker

When a promising rock musician tired of the road and the pressure, he gave up music and got a job at a hardware store. Then one day, he had a revelation.

Story by NANCY LEBRUN
Photography by STEPHEN KRAMER

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