Let’s consider the word “craft.” Craft is defined by Merriam- Webster dictionary as, “An activity that involves making something in a skillful way by using your hands.” or “To make or produce with care, skill, or ingenuity.” I also like this definition, “An occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill… Synonyms – see art.”
I actually prefer the word, artisan. It is defined as “A person who is skilled at making things by hand.” I guess if it comes right down to it, I would call myself an artisan.
Why is it important to define this? Well, a lot of people make things with their hands but not all of them do it with skill.
There are a lot of different ways our minds think about craft depending on background and experience. When I think of craft I think of an artisan, the art and craft movement in America, a master craftsman, someone who spends a lifetime perfecting their work, and NOT what comes out of the local craft store. I guess I see almost a hierarchy in the word craft. Not that what comes out of the local craft store is bad, it just isn’t exactly what I mean when I say the word “craft”. I wish there was some in- between word. A word that would explain an artist at heart that happens to be making crafts. Someone who spends a lifetime perfecting their craft.
Or maybe everyone that steps into a craft store is secretly an artist but just never took that box off the shelf. Hmm…
I read a definition the other day that I liked (sorry, I can’t remember where I read it). They said something like, “art is from the heart and craft is from the hands”. I believe that an artisan combines them both. They craft with love.
One of my favorite college professors of all times was the man who introduced me to clay. His name was Kirk. He helped me realize that stepping out of the painting class and into the pottery studio was not taking a step down, but a step across the hall. As a freshman I felt that I had to be a painter to be an artist. He quickly taught me that it was more about how we are gifted and working in clay was no less noble, it was just different than my ideal. It took several years to adjust to that way of thinking. However, once I realized I was doing what I loved and was good at, I wondered what took me so long. If I would have made the decision that, “If I can’t be a painter and “true artist” then I won’t do anything,” I would have really missed out.
If you are thinking that you really want to do something (be it art, writing, music, whatever it may be), and you are not doing it because you feel you are not skilled and gifted in that area, are you going to be content just walking away? Shouldn’t you work a little harder at it? You might discover if your love of that “something” is really a talent or gift that you are just not using. Just because I find that I can do something with skill does not mean that the minute I picked up the tools, I knew what to do with them. I had to learn and get better (I’m still learning). Don’t stop doing something you are drawn to, just because it doesn’t work the first time you try it (or even the twentieth time).