Wednesday, November 16, 2011

When did "Craft" Become a Dirty Word? +Mandala Class

This is something I think about from time to time... The definition of "craft" from is


  [kraft, krahft]  Show IPA noun, plural crafts or,for 5, 8, craft, verb
an arttrade, or occupation requiring special skill,especially manual skill: the craft of a mason.
skill; dexterity: The silversmith worked with great craft.
skill or ability used for bad purposes; cunning; deceit; guile.
the members of a trade or profession collectively; a guild.
a ship or other vessel.

Craft would include things like weaving and pottery, which most of us would probably argue falls in the realm of Art. When did "craft" become a dirty word (at least to Art teachers...)? When did the definition change?

Probably when people started referring to trace this, cut this, glue it here, follow the directions at summer camp kind of stuff as craft.

And while I'm thinking out loud in writing, who says you can't make Art out of "crafty" materials? I can't remember the name of the artist, but this lady visited and gave a talk at ESU when I was in college and I remember her saying "I should be able to make Art, anytime, anywhere, and out of anything." That's why I don't turn down many donated materials. (That and my fear that Art budgets will continue to decrease each year.) I have a bunch of little furry pom-pons that someone gave me last week, I plan to use them to help my younger students explore texture and then let my older students use them to construct relief sculptures like the ones my 6th grade students completed last spring. I'm not trying to insult teachers who don't take supply donations- they may not have room to store them or may not have the need. But my point, I guess, is that I think Art can be made out of just about anything. And now I need to end this post and head to bed because this is starting to get really ramble-y.

One more thing, though! If you are interested in learning more about mandalas, Willowing.ning is hosting a FREE Mandala class taught by Guadalupe Brizuela Cabal. It started on Monday and will last two more weeks but it's not too late to join! I created 4 designs today- 2 starting with the template she provided and 2 all by myself with a compass and a ruler. I'm really enjoying it so far.


  1. I've been thinking a lot about this too. I know in the past that I have felt my skin crawl when some tells me to go make crafts with my students. But now I'm actually starting to find the word more appealing.

    I also think this is just one of those circumstances where the word has evolved a new definition or connotation as time goes on.

  2. Good post. I agree with you on the whole idea of craft "bigots". let them walk a mile in our shoes..........