I could count on one hand all the things I’ve ever created that have no purpose other than to just be. Because of this, I’ve felt less like an artist and more like a crafter, my thinking being that functional things were mostly created by crafters, and ‘things of beauty’ by artists. That thought probably says more about my urbanity than my ability as a maker, a direct reflection of my rural roots.
While admiring my star wreath and thinking how it was one of the few things I’ve made that has no practical function, the thought occurred to me that maybe functional objects that also communicate individual ideas are the very definition of arts & crafts/artist & crafter. As a well-paired couple, maybe it’s a case of them working hand in hand, not one or the other.
It’s not called ‘arts or crafts.’
With less focus put on an object’s purpose and greater focus on its becoming, it was easy for me to see that artistry and craftsmanship lovingly complement each other during creation. It then seemed that there weren’t that many differences between artist and crafter or reasons why they need be separated at all.
Both work with simple and/or technical tools. Both design and create original pieces, either contrived or spontaneously, or are just as likely to follow patterns or instructions created by others. Both so-called artists and crafters share an intimacy through their hands and hearts with the objects created.
Is there really a difference between an art studio and a craft room? I’m thinking not; both are filled with the ‘stuff’ of the maker- closets, shelves, boxes and tables full of inspiration, works in progress, ideas, inventions, and all other accoutrements. And, if fortunate enough, some really good natural lighting.
While most things I create have a functional reason for being, I now see that most also have completely unnecessary elements that solely exist to make that object extra special, acting like a signature on a piece of artwork. Of course, this can be achieved whether or not unessential details are added because that’s just what arts & crafting is- making things that are expressly your own.
The next four days we will be busily making items to sell at our family table at this year’s Inis Mor Craft Fair. We’re donating all proceeds to Galway Simon to show support for their work to end homelessness in our neighbouring community.
One of our projects, homemade fire lighters, will use the dried ferns that garden kitty Pearl is sleeping upon while curled in a pile of buckets, pictured left. We’ve been gathering the other materials throughout the year–it’s a handmade-using-recycled-materials kind of project. I’ll share more next week. Until then, happy weekend everyone.
p.s. I might do a short post explaining the mathematics behind turning a cookie cutter template into a wreath nearly 200 times its size!
p.s.s. Here’s a video of our wreath lighting ceremony from earlier this week. The video was picked up via social media by the national Irish language radio station,, and played over the radio just before Johnny was live interviewed via telephone conversation.
Here’s the link to Johnny’s podcast interview: