Most of us have had arts and crafts classes in school, when we were growing up. We remember building log cabins out of Popsicle sticks, making friendship bracelets, or funny insects and animals out of pipe cleaners. But few of us know the real history of this ancient practice.
Man is a naturally creative animal. He has been making things with his own two hands for tens of thousands of years. Some of the earliest examples of handicrafts were pieces of ornamental jewelry, vases and tapestries. People have always enjoyed decorating themselves and their home environments.
The popularity of crafts reached its zenith in Medieval Europe. Craftsmen studied and practiced for years to produce certain saleable goods. Whether jewelry, pots, shoes or pans, craftsmen made a good living producing items they had been making since childhood. All of that ended with the Industrial Revolution.
The mass production of goods with machines put an end to an era and gave consumers access to more affordable goods. But something important was lost in the process. Crafts were a way for young people to learn real world skills and to obtain a trade. In time, these young apprentices became master craftsmen and they produced goods that were both utilitarian and artistic, whereas a machine can only produce a replica.
Professional and rustic handicrafts more or less disappeared after the Industrial Revolution, until the Arts and Crafts Movement that flourished in England in the late 19th century. Inspired by the writings of artists and sociologists, the movement was a direct reaction to mass production. These intrepid souls believed that machine-made products had a deleterious effect on the decorative arts and that arts and crafts were essential to the development of future generations. The movement promoted a return to traditional craftsmanship using basic materials, simple styles and techniques of decoration.
While it is true that the Arts and Crafts Movement did lose the battle against anti-industrialization, it had lasting effects that can still be felt even today. Arts and crafts were incorporated into primary school education programs due in no small part to the movement. So where are we now?Most schools do not have a class called “Arts and Crafts” any longer. They simply call it plain old art, but crafts are an important part of the curriculum. Of course, you don’t have to be a child to enjoy arts and crafts. Millions of Americans knit and quilt and work with leather, wood and clay. Whether you label it an art or a craft, the result of most of this work is a handicraft.
Leatherwork, furniture making, jewelry, metalwork, woodwork, weaving, ceramics, embroidery, rug making and lace making are just a few of the most popular crafts that double as careers and hobbies.
Why do people still love arts and crafts?
In addition to helping people earn a living, crafts are fun and relaxing.Doctors often recommend hobbies to patients that desperately need to relieve stress. Studies have also shown that crafts give people a sense of purpose. The better they become as craftsmen, the more time and energy they will devote to their new hobby.
Parents and Crafts
We often hear that children are like sponges. They have inquisitive minds and they desperately want to learn about their world. Unfortunately, television and video games do not challenge them very much. Not only are they repetitive, but they only stimulate a few human senses. Arts and crafts are completely different.
There are no scores or laugh tracks to tell us how to react. A child is challenged to access his imagination and to create something on his own. Engaging in arts and crafts is a great way to bond with kids and help them develop self esteem. As important as positive reinforcement and compliments are, nothing can compare with actual accomplishments. Arts and crafts give a child the opportunity to make something with his own two hands, from start to finish. Instead of playing games during family time, try a simple craft project.
Parents often complain that their children are difficult to talk to. More often than not, they blame technology. But video games and cell phone are not the problem. Parents need to set aside some quality time for challenging activities with their children. A half an hour of arts and crafts can tell you an awful lot about your child. Most parents are surprised to learn that their kids have an imagination and a creative spirit that was just waiting to be released.
Fun Craft Ideas for Younger Kids
Noodle Art: A sheet of construction paper, some dry noodles, glue, and a few crayons. Sock Puppets: A sock, a pair of googly eyes, and a mouth made from red felt is all it takes to create a simple sock puppet. Colorful yarn and a few swatches of clothing can be used to make a more sophisticated sock creature.
Pipe Cleaner Art: No worry, no mess, no problem. Pipe cleaners are one of the cheapest and most affordable craft materials. Best of all, kids love them and can play with them for hours on end.
Play dough fun: Lay a piece of newspaper on the floor, give you kids a few jars of non-toxic play dough, and leave them to their own devices.
Finger Painting: Kids love messes, and finger paints on any kind of paper never gets old. Arts and crafts supplies are sold at discounts prices on the internet. Find some fun-making tools for your whole family now.