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Arts and crafts are terms that are frequently used together, and rightfully so, because the differences are slight and, in many cases, arguable.

One argument is that art differs from craft in that art is a creative merit that comes from within, while craft refers to skilled work that people can learn through practice. Another way of wording that is that art comes from the heart, while craft comes from the mind.

This is true in many respects, and it is certainly true about much of what is considered craft. The range of what might be regarded as a craft is perhaps wider than that which is generally considered to be art and is likely to include a lot of items that can be easily taught.

However, there have always been craftsmen whose creations are art in any reasonable sense of the word, and who possess talents that are not easily taught or readily learned by others.

I've heard people say that art is created for the aesthetic purposes, while crafts are intended for practical use, but that definition falls flat when you see pieces of furniture or other useful items that can only be described as works of art, despite the fact that they are intended to be used as chairs or cabinetry. Conversely, we've probably all viewed art pieces that are neither useful nor aesthetically pleasant.

Perhaps, it would be reasonable to accept that a work of art can also be useful, that artists can also be taught, and that useful items can also be works of art.

A craft is an activity that involves both skill and experience in the creation of handmade tangible or utilitarian objects that fulfill a particular purpose, which may be decorative, functional, or both.

Although some craftsmen possess skills and abilities that are not easily passed on to others, a craft is generally a learned ability that can be acquired through practice.

In the Middle Ages, the term craft was used interchangeably with trade to describe an occupation that required particular skills, and was usually applied to people occupied in the small-scale production of goods, such as tinkers. The more specialized crafts, with high-value products, were concentrated in the urban centers, and guilds were formed to oversee the practice of a trade within a particular geographical area. People who were learning the trade were known as apprentices, who would become journeymen once the trade was sufficiently learned. A journeyman who set up his own shop could become a master of his craft.

While crafts, in the traditional form, have not entirely died out, much of what was once created by craftsmen is now manufactured in factories in production lines, often aided by robotics or other automated means.

The modern arts and crafts movement originated in England during the late 19th century. The primary artist associated with this movement was William Morris, and popularized through the writings of John Ruskin, whose aim was to resurrect Medieval-era craftmanship.

Today, the traditional term (craftsman) is often replaced by artisan or craftspeople, and artisans most often practice their craft as independent artists, or in small groups. The term (crafts) is often used to describe artistic or decorative art practices, traditionally defined by their relationship to the medium through which they are created, such as ceramics, clay, glass, leather, metals, paper, stone, textiles, or wood. Other types of crafts might include beading, book arts, candlemaking, dolls, floral, jewelry, nature, and soap.

Crafts are often exhibited alongside other forms of art, or in craft fairs, craft studios, or online.

Topics related to crafts are the focus of this portion of our guide, including its subcategories.



Book Arts









Nature Crafts


Paper Crafts



Soap Making

Textile Arts




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