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
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 Rawhide Artist
Fall 2016

The Rawhide Artist

Bill Black, a master “rawhider,” has poured his life into refining a simple piece of horse gear called a hackamore. Sometimes used in lieu of a bridle, the device has largely fallen into disuse. But it can teach a horse to work cattle with unusual agility, grace, and sophistication—if managed by a knowing pair of hands.

BY Andy Rieber
What? A bamboo bicycle?
Summer 2016

What? A bamboo bicycle?

OK, so some of them look silly—brown and fat with oversized joints, like a high-school basketball player who has sprained every limb and wrapped each elbow and knee with ace bandages. But Craig Calfee, the respected (and highly successful) carbon frame builder, swears by the strength, flexibility, and ecological value of the bamboo bicycle.

BY Jeff Greenwald
The Shinola Polish
Spring 2016

The Shinola Polish

In the 1960s, Shinola, the venerable American shoe-polish company that became famous for a World War II soldier’s crack, “You don’t know shit from Shinola,” shut its doors. The move was a fitting bookend to the golden age of American manufacturing. Then, in 2011, a Texas developer revived the name as a maker of watches, leather goods, and retro bicycles in the broken heart of downtown Detroit, where, the company says, “American is Made.” Is making things in America again that easy?

BY Laura Fraser
The Value of Time
Spring 2016

The Value of Time

When an American made, battery powered, quartz watch costs $1,500, and its counterparts from other countries, including Switzerland, range from $50 to more than $50,000, what’s the difference between them all? A dive into the eternal appeal of wrist sculptures.

BY Todd Oppenheimer
The Search For The Perfect, American-made, Leather Bag
Spring 2016

The Search For The Perfect, American-made, Leather Bag

Boutiques selling hip shoulder bags seem to be all the rage these days. Some look rustic enough to take into the woods, some more suited to the streets of Manhattan. With all these offerings, how does an eager consumer judge quality? Herewith, a visit with four contrasting American leathercrafting shops. And a little story about Marv Obenauf, a former firefighter turned master artisan of leather dressings.

BY Todd Oppenheimer
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
Real Shaving: a Gift Guide
Winter 2016

Real Shaving: a Gift Guide

If you’re curious about the offerings beyond (or before) today’s over-priced, plasticized, landfill clogging shaving gear, we’ve got you covered. A collector of traditional shaving tools, and a prolific writer on the topic, offers a primer—and some very wise buying tips. Male readers in particular, beware: It is very easy to get hooked on this stuff.

BY Michael Ham
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
The Soul of the Italian Shoe
Fall 2015

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.

BY Erla Zwingle
The Bonsai Kid
Fall 2015

The Bonsai Kid

A young Oregonian believes he can create a uniquely American form of the Japanese bonsai tree. And he is literally betting the farm on the idea that if he builds it, they will come.

BY Nancy LeBrun
The Clay Conjurer
Spring 2015

The Clay Conjurer

Felipe Ortega has devoted his life to creating the perfect pot of beans—and an unusually audacious way of looking at culture. Over the years, Ortega’s journey involved such an unusual combination of the traditional and the non-traditional that it puts a very old question into very new light: What’s the right way to look at cultural progress? Should we put a fence around our unique traditions? Or should we share them, welcoming the opportunity to mix with new ideas?

BY Deborah Busemeyer
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
Spoonism
Summer 2017

Spoonism

How I stumbled upon the world’s most perfect eating utensil.

BY Owen Edwards
The Clay Mystique
Summer 2017

The Clay Mystique

A gastro-scientific investigation of why cooks believe food tastes better (note: much better) when it’s cooked in a ceramic pot. Tour guide: Paula Wolfert, the legendary queen of American clay-pot cooking.

BY Todd Oppenheimer