Faythe Levine’s documentary about DIY, titled Handmade Nation, reflected the collective craft movement sweeping the USA. This movement includes a broad spectrum of makers who are setting up small businesses, attending craft markets and engaging in craft activist events. Textile arts figure greatly, as do women.
Journalist and ‘comix historian’ Patrick Rosenkranz has made a documentary that tells the other side of the story. Crafted Over Time features revivalists who are seeking to return to the roots of craft in the pre-technological age. These include ‘glassmaker, a stained glass designer, bookbinders, instrument makers, stonemasons, a cannon maker, and even flint knappers.’ These revivalists work mostly in isolation, with little economic engagement in the world, and they are mostly men.
Both worlds seem passionate about the making process. But each move in fundamentally different directions. One moves collectively into the world, mediated by all the new social networking technologies. The other wanders alone away from the madding crowd, isolated in their craft. Is one path more true to the spirit of craft?
While lone craftspersons can seem to be hiding from the world, in terms of continuing craft traditions and maintaining diversity of skills, they do seem to play an essential part in the world. But their potential still waits for someone to come along who can find a way of linking it with the world outside. Meanwhile, they keep the flame alight.