Across the U.S., scores of schools and other programs offer courses and workshops in everything from boat-building to glass blowing to knife making. But no one has created an informed guide to all these courses—until now. If you’ve always wanted to become a better woodworker, make and smoke your own sausage, or fix your grandfather’s antique violin, here are detailed descriptions of the nine best programs we could find.
By NATALIE JONES
Photos courtesy of the schools
Ross Shafer made his mark creating a popular brand of mountain bikes, called Salsa, and a line of small but crucial bicycle parts that no one had brought to the market before. Now he’s making what might be the world’s most beautiful “pedal steel guitar.” Might Shafer’s relentless eclecticism offer a model for a kind of second Renaissance?
By OWEN EDWARDS
Primary photography by MIKKEL AALAND
Fishing for tiny Japanese bitterling is a Zen-like experience. You hold a six-inch slender bamboo pole delicately between your forefinger and middle finger and drop a line with a speck of mashed potato or a half-grain of rice as bait. If the air is quiet and your concentration focused enough, you might just see the…
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
“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.…
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, firstname.lastname@example.org. 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…
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
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