Today I read an article from a recent Publishers Weekly. Despite the overall book publishing business being in the toilet, there is one segment of the industry that is doing great. Sales of craft books are booming and the customer base is rapidly expanding. Great news for craft book publishers and crafters alike. What I don't buy is PW's explanation. Clearly the article was written by a non-crafter - someone with that age-old misconception that crafters hand make things to save money. Yeah, right. The two comments in the article that I do concur with are: 1.)In times of trouble there is an increased attention to home and family, and 2.)As the working world increasingly means spending all day in front of a computer, young professionals are turning to crafting for non-virtual balance.
The satisfaction of creating something by hand is hard to describe, but very real. It is more than pride in the execution. At its best, it involves an intimate relationship between artisan, tools and materials. When I took a class on Japanese style woodblock printing we learned that top quality barrens (disk-shaped tools used to rub the paper onto the inked block) are hand made from natural materials by skilled artisans. Could you get the same print using a low-end plastic substitute? Possibly, but the experience of the artist is integral to the product. Among my fiber craft pursuits, the most indescribably satisfying activity is to spin beautifully-prepared natural fibers on a perfectly-balanced, hand-crafted, exotic hardwood handspindle. Fiber magic.