The Celluloid Gumshoe
Winter 2017

The Celluloid Gumshoe

Eddie Muller has dedicated his life to finding, and restoring, lost films of the great Film Noir era of the 1940s and ’50s. At this point, Muller is much like one of his favorite characters—a beaten down but determined gumshoe, always looking for a lucky break. At stake: the preservation of our cinematic history, well beyond film noir.

BY Barbara Tannenbaum
Our second annual Artisanal Gift Guide
Winter 2017

Our second annual Artisanal Gift Guide

The word artisanal has become so shopworn that it’s almost devoid of meaning. (In fact, we once saw an outlet for fast pizza on the outskirts of a small town in northern France, which was fashioned in the style of an ATM-kiosk under the following sign: “Artisanal Pizza.”) In stark contrast to this sorry state of affairs, we would like to suggest a few items for holiday shopping made by some of the masters we profiled in 2016.

BY Sharon Tilley
The Play Gap
Fall 2016

The Play Gap

In Providence, Rhode Island, Janice McDonnell started one of the unlikeliest of revolutions. On seven empty lots in the inner city, she set up a new kind of playground—places where kids could build anything they want, break anything they want. Her larger goals? To fight the disappearance of play brought on by the relentless testing that’s become the norm in today’s schools—and to spread playful opportunities beyond rich white families.

BY Todd Oppenheimer
Cuba’s madres (y padres) of invention
Fall 2016

Cuba’s madres (y padres) of invention

Since the communist revolution of 1959, Cuba has been on an economic rollercoaster. The country has lurched from dependency to self-sufficiency, in a bubble of isolation where technological time stopped. Our correspondent visits the artists and self-taught engineers who have kept Cuba running throughout its bizarre ride.

BY Rob Waters
The best bicycle seats on the planet: A factory tour
Summer 2016

The best bicycle seats on the planet: A factory tour

Anyone who knows bicycles knows Brooks—the legendary, iconic British company that has been making simple, old-fashioned leather bicycle saddles since 1882. In the ensuing years, many have tried to improve on these seats with new designs and new materials. Yet the consensus remains: Nothing can beat a Brooks, which celebrates the brand’s 150th anniversary this year. So of course we had to go see how these saddles get made.

BY Grace Rubenstein
The Mind of a Cartoonist
Spring 2016

The Mind of a Cartoonist

A dive into the twisted, obsessive, goofy world of Ken Krimstein, who draws cartoons for a range of magazines, including The New Yorker. What does this art form tell us about the nature of humor, and cartooning’s lure?

BY Lori Rotenberk
Can a Colonial Crafts Town Survive Modern Mexico?
Winter 2016

Can a Colonial Crafts Town Survive Modern Mexico?

In the 1500s, a Spanish bishop turned a collection of pueblos around the Mexican town of Patzcuaro into a center for craftsmanship. The people here are still making and marketing their wares in much the same way they did hundreds of years ago. Now they have to overcome tourists’ fears about drug traffickers, real or not.

BY Laura Fraser
The Rise and Fall of Toy Theatre
Winter 2016

The Rise and Fall of Toy Theatre

In the depths of London, a “toy theatre” born in the 1800s continues to stage regular performances. In their heyday, these productions drew London’s top writers and artists, creating Victorian England’s version of the modern PR campaign. Replicas of these miniature theatres are still for sale.

BY Garrett Epps
The High Art of the Mask
Winter 2016

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.

BY Erla Zwingle
An Artisanal Gift Guide
Winter 2016

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
Printing with Love
Fall 2015

Printing with Love

A CRAFTSMANSHIP photo essay. In the capital of digital disruption old styles of book making still flourish. See some of the Bay Area’s masters of letterpress printing at work.

BY Douglas Cruickshank
The Puppeteer
Summer 2015

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 Reed Artist
Summer 2015

The Reed Artist

A writer searches for the king of the ney – an enigmatic and at times endangered flute that has long been a mainstay of Muslim musical traditions.

BY Rollo Romig
The Cigar Box Guitar Maker
Summer 2015

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.

BY Nancy LeBrun
The Conductionist
Summer 2015

The Conductionist

The late Butch Morris, a figure from the outer edges of jazz, reimagined conducting as a form of composition, coining his own word for the combination of the two.

BY Francis Davis
The Return of the Harmonica
Summer 2015

The Return of the Harmonica

In the 1970s, Hohner, the world’s largest harmonica manufacturer, changed its flagship model, and in the process its signature sound. A few musicians and harp customizers waged a quiet rebellion. And they won.

BY Ben Marks
The Soul of French Invention
Spring 2015

The Soul of French Invention

An American woodworker’s love affair with “the best” (and perhaps least well-known) sculpture museum in Paris – and what the affair taught him.

BY Gary Rogowski
Parts & Recreation
Spring 2015

Parts & Recreation

What makes people devote hours to the frustrating task of gluing together pieces so small you have to pick them up with tweezers? And does this obsessive hobby even matter anymore? To find out, a devotee of the art dives into Revell’s world of plastic models.

BY Jeff Greenwald