‘Crafting-Transforming Materials & the Maker’ blog by Bernard Graves

Some three years ago I approached a few fellow Craft practitioners with the idea of co-writing a Craft book – one that would be a collective of our various practical skills experiences and many years of practice and teaching. We formed Hands on Press to publish our book.

We agreed to all set out on a writing journey addressing a common theme:

We asked the question; ‘Is there a place for traditional handcrafts in education today? Is there a place for learning the bygone skills of the power, the smith or the weaver, when the 21st century, so rich in technology seems to demand a radically different set of aptitude and attitudes from both young and old.’ History shows us that our hands are the key to the expression of creativity, of bringing into the form the culture and values of each successive human civilisation.

The age-old practice of working with our hands to transform materials, a process which in turn shapes and transforms us, is a profound and fundamental part of our evolving humanity; nothing could be more significant in the times in which we live.

In answering this: Crafting – Transforming Materials & the Maker takes us on a personal journey and insights to their specific craft materials and process through seven different crafts: From Wool to Felt – Skin to Leather – Willows to Baskets – Green Wood to Chair – Clay to Pots – Iron and Blacksmithing and finally Leaded Stained Glass work.

Transformational Experiences

Crafting is essentially about Transformation not only of the material used but as importantly the reciprocal transformational processes experienced by the maker. The potter for instance does not only leave his or her ‘thumb print’ in the clay but is equally themselves impressed by the clay’s very own nature. The real value in Crafting is not only to be found in the beautifully formed and functional artefact but in the personal, social and emotional developments that making can provide for the maker. Eminent neurologists have confirmed that indeed the use of fingers and hands, especially in the younger child’s formative years is responsible for vital neurological brain development – thus confirming a bygone expression that “nimble fingers begets nimble minds”.

Gradually the manuscript emerged and with the word-smith’s editorial assistance of SPP, our book took shape and was finally printed.

Alexander Langlands comments: “This is a book that causes us to rethink what constitutes wisdom and knowledge in an age that has detached us from that which defines us as both thinkers and makers”.

‘Crafting – Transforming Materials & the Maker’ by Bernard Graves can be bought on Amazon.

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