Crafty remarks

She keeps saying this word, and I think it means exactly what she says it means:

[W]hen I say “craft,” I am thinking of the long tradition of skilled people who make stuff by hand, especially stuff that is useful — potters and knitters and weavers and cabinet makers. But when I say “craft” I think lots of people hear “novelty loo-roll covers” and get turned off.

That definition may be informed, or perhaps deformed, by Arts and Crafts classes in grade schools several decades ago, in which the objective, so far as I could tell, was to produce something that looked vaguely like the picture in the book.

And, as the young folks say, THIS:

I don’t know if it’s possible to “reclaim” the term “craft” or to come up with something new. But there needs to be a term for something that’s not really art in the sense that it’s something you might use every day (most art, I think of as being too fragile or precious to use) but that is beautiful and well made.

Furthermore, these days, apart from fragility and preciousness, rather a lot of art seems to be transgressive for the sake of transgression, and critics, aware on which side their bread is buttered, are often not inclined to note that the Emperor lost his last garment — a faux-leather belt festooned with 57 pointy studs, once for each state — several blocks ago.


  1. Francis W. Porretto »

    7 June 2013 · 4:34 am

    Filly has a point — “novelty loo-roll covers? That’s a new one on me — but interestingly enough, craft has a secondary meaning: it’s a synonym for cunning. An example follows.

    Some years ago, the words craftsman and tradesman fell into disuse. I’m unsure why, but simultaneously, far too many persons in far too many occupations started calling themselves professionals, which they are not. I suspect a connection; perhaps an application of lexicographic craft in a campaign to win prestige and respect those occupations have not earned and do not deserve.

    Just one more front in the continuing assault on the objective meanings of words.

  2. Roger Green »

    7 June 2013 · 4:50 am

    Worse, crafty has a somewhat negative connotation, not merely skilled, but sneaky.

  3. Dick Stanley »

    7 June 2013 · 7:07 am

    I’ve noticed the unwarranted proliferation of profession. But not any problem with craft. It is being applied to more things, such as the playing of a musical instrument.

  4. McGehee »

    7 June 2013 · 8:54 am

    In my head I distinguish between “craft” as in “craftmanship” from “arts and crafts,” which brings to mind the beaded lanyards kids make at suymmer camp. But then, I’m old.

  5. McGehee »

    7 June 2013 · 8:55 am

    …and prone to typos.

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