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FOCUS:Where are all the men? by Michiko Yasue of www.myfuroshiki.blogspot.com


From the Master Craftsmen of the Middle Ages to William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement, men have been heavily involved and influential in crafts in the past. These days, however, there is a perception that this is changing. My quest – to find the men!


A quick glance at what might be seen as the more traditional haunts of male crafters shows that they are still very much in evidence there. Over 90% of members of the Association of Wood turners of Great Britain who accept commissions and over 95% of the members of The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths are male.


It is in the more general craft arenas, exhibitions, craft markets and online, that the balance seems to change. It is not that craftsmen are not there


88 | ukhandmade | Autumn 2010


or even that they participate only in a limited range of crafts. Fortnum & Mason’s recent ‘Handmade: A British Craft Exhibition’ included the ceramic, glass, silver and wood work of 26 craftsmen; at a local Arts Market yesterday there was a potter, a painter, a photographer, a printmaker and a jeweller. However, in each instance, whilst the craftsmen were well represented, there were more craftswomen. Perhaps this is what is happening generally? Not that the number of craftsmen is decreasing, but that the number of craftswomen is increasing.


In part, this reflects the surge of interest in crafting and particularly in ‘domestic’ crafts (those traditionally seen as the province of women). Even prior to the recession, there was an upswing of interest in the home


and home decoration and this has evolved into a desire to resurrect the skills of earlier generations, to save money and to seek simpler, more eco-friendly comforts. Crafting is cool and the internet provides easy access to markets for those based at home. A TNS survey reported that UK housewives spend 47% of their leisure time online and almost half of UK housewives make some money online.


From talking to craftsmen and women, there are many points of similarity between them and the same wide range of experiences. Some have been making things from an early age; for others there was a single turning point which set them on the path. Some are self-trained and others have studied their craft formally. Both face the same range


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