The creation or decoration of handmade artefacts with a practical purpose, using technical skill and manual dexterity. Crafts may be culture specific, such as Sioux beadwork in American Indian art. Pottery, weaving, basketry, paper work, woodworking, and the manufacture of jewellery and stained glass are considered traditional crafts, many of which can be traced back thousands of years. The difference between craft and objects of ‘fine art’ lies in both the artist's intent and in the object's functionality. The line between fine art and craft is ever changing, and today many educators and art historians refuse to place works into such narrow categories.
Tension has sometimes arisen between those ‘artists’ who consider their work more expressive and cultured, and ‘crafts people’, who do not regard their work as purely functional. The reputation of craft began to deteriorate following the Industrial Revolution, when machines began to mass produce furniture, silverware, glass, and other previously handcrafted items. Efforts to revive the crafts during this era included the 19th-century Arts and Crafts Movement.
Pottery, or ceramics, includes the creation of clay objects by hand or thrown (formed) on a potter's wheel. Ceramic forms can also be created in a mould.
Weaving is a method of creating textile using two or more threads, either by hand or on a loom. Basketry includes making objects such as baskets and rugs through weaving and coiling techniques. Materials for basketry include reeds, rope, and yarn. Other crafts considered textile in nature include knitting, the making of lace and quilts, embroidery, macramé (knotting), batik, and tie-dye.
Paper crafts include découpage, a method of decorating a three-dimensional object with pictures and cutouts; papier mâché, creating objects with paper dipped in a glue–water solution; and origami, among others.
Woodworking includes the fabrication of an object, using methods of joining and cutting, and the art of woodcarving to create an artefact or decoration. Many early cultures would fashion objects using woodcarving techniques.
Jewellery-making is a craft that depends on many different techniques. A piece of jewellery may be made by simply stringing beads together, or more complex pieces can be created by forging and soldering precious metals, and by cutting and setting gems. Multicoloured glass may be created by techniques such as millefiore, where strands of glass are drawn and fused together. Stained glass is created when metal strips hold in place specifically cut shapes of coloured glass. Stained glass can be a monumental craft, adorning some of the most important architectural accomplishments, or it can be a very domestic craft, as seen in simple lampshades and jewellery boxes. Other decorative techniques incorporating creative metalworking include cloisonné, in which metal strips are infilled with coloured enamel, and the use of niello, a black substance to fill in incised silver engraving.
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