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Thinking through craft and the digital turn has developed organically out of the everyday experience of practitioners at OCAD University (OCAD U) in Material Art & Design (MAAD), a department that is rooted in craft processes and materiality. It is a project that has resonated throughout the academic craft community and has been embraced by colleagues at other institutions such as Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Alberta University of the Arts, NSCAD University and Sheridan College. Questions regularly arise about what is produced in our studios and whether it can be called craft when one is working with digital tools that appear to produce objects autonomously instead of through embodied making. There is both productive resistance along with whole-hearted adoption of digital technologies amongst our communities.

The title of the project is an homage to the various ‘thinking through’ texts that have helped to theorize research-creation endeavours—Thinking through Art, Thinking through Craft and Thinking through Fashion (Holdridge and Macleod 2006; Adamson 2007; Rocamora and Smelik 2015) to name a few. The notion here is that we can learn through a discipline rather than impose or appropriate theory. It is a reminder of a central contention that we are using to support this research—we are embodied learners and the theory we are both using and developing is specific to the work we do in the studio using craft methodology, which is a primary engagement with materials, processes, tools and technology. We often engage with other methodologies, such as art, architecture, design but our discipline has its own history and trajectory that guide this particular endeavour.

Preliminary Research Findings

Two surveys were conducted in 2020-2022. The first, directed at faculty and technicians across Canada aimed to establish a historical timeline of digital adoption and engagement in post-secondary craft programs. Completed surveys were collected from 50 individuals working at 13 institutions in seven provinces. 

Our questions to faculty and technicians asked about their “key moments” and observations of changes in their studios and communities over time.

Professions of faculty and technicians at craft-based studios, labs, and workshops across post-secondary institutions in Canada with select quotes from respondents 

We imagined that the responses would enable us to develop a timeline of the digital adoption in academic institutions, but survey respondents referred, instead, to their own experiences of time when they learned or how they built their own tools, and these observations gave us new imperatives for our data visualisations. They expanded on personal growth as well as frustrations at the lack of time for training. They mentioned the need for new thinking in the ways digital is taught and used to create craft. 

The second survey was directed at undergraduate students in the Material Art & Design program at OCAD University and craft-focused students at Alberta University of the Arts (AUArts). We asked about their experiences with digital methods as well as the shift to learning craft online during the pandemic. 69 student surveys were collected.  

Studio focuses of students across post-secondary institutions in Canada with select quotes from respondents

Student responses added another layer of information to our findings. Students saw opportunities in using digital processes for designing and modelmaking but expressed a deep need to learn craft and digital methods in an embodied way with others in a physical space.




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Adamson, G. (2013) The Invention of Craft. London: Bloomsbury.

Adamson, G. (2018) Fewer, Better Things [Online]. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.

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Writer Diana Budds, whose work centers on design and the built environment, spoke with six of the Loewe Foundation Craft Prize’s 2017 finalists about why craft mattered to them. Budd prefaces the responses by stating that despite the voracious consumption of mass production, consumers crave craft. The responses of the six artists share why craft is such a valuable practice for them in not just producing an object but retaining connection. Interviewed were winner Ernst Gamperl, “Tree of Life 2” (2016), and finalists Brendan Tang, “Manga Ormolu” (2016); Kristina Rothe, “Burial Object” (2010); Celia Pym, “Norwegian Sweater” (2010); Patrícia Domingues, “Many & Deliberated” (2016); and, Yoshiaki Kojiro, “Structural Blue” (2015).
For Gamperl, working with wood was a connection to the multi-sensory relationship with nature where the material leads the process: “I have a kind of dialogue with the material when I have to recognize the “hidden” object inside.” Ceramics offer Tang the ability to mimic the real and imagined sensory input of various materials, exploring the “human experience beyond the visual and the cerebral: to explore it through our hands.” Rothe’s use of paper, in its fragile, unstable glory allows her to slow everything down and connect with not only the traditional techniques but to contemplate the relationship of the materials and how fortunate people are to have the ability “to make something by ourselves.”
Worn and tattered textiles are vessels of stories that Pym feels compelled to preserve through the practice of mending. “I really love the soft and thin quality to worn and loved textiles. Sometimes the cloth gets so thin and there is the most delicate remains of the yarn–it’s like the textile has become a spider’s web, held together by thin threads … I value knowing the touch, the weight, the hand, the smell, and the colour of the materials. Craft develops your ability to work with your hands and hold the knowledge in your body of how you play with the materials.”
Domingues sees craft, specifically stones used in jewellery, as a tangible bridge between the natural world and the digital. She explores both natural and artificial stones, wherein “stone is an object of admiration which represents the idyllic image of nature, whereas the artificial material functions as a blank sheet of paper, devoid of personality, where I can reinvent the observations I have made in the natural world.” Kojiro, as a former architect turned glass artist, sees craft as a way of connecting with our imaginations. For him, “craft is an event that starts with a physical sense of the relationship between materials and people. This spirit and physicality are related not only to creative activities, but also to the foundation of human activity.”
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Crafts Council (2016) An Education Manifesto for Craft and Making - Crafts Council [Online]. Crafts Council (Great Britain). Available from: [Accessed 1 December 2016].
The Crafts Council, renamed in 1979, was founded in 1971 with the mission “to advise the government ‘on the needs of the artist-craftsman and to promote a nation-wide interest and improvement in their products’.” Between 2007 and 2013, student participation in craft-related GCSEs fell by 25%, and in higher education, the number of craft courses fell by 46%. In response, the Craft Council launched this manifesto at the House of Commons on November 10, 2014, with the aim of forming a unified plan of action to secure the future of craft education. The manifesto consists of five primary calls for change: put craft and making at the heart of education; build more routes into craft careers; bring craft enterprise into education; invest in skills throughout careers; and promote world-class higher education and research in craft (3).
According to the Craft Council, not only does craft and making generate over £3.4b for the economy, but craft needs to be prioritized in education because it “embeds experience of working with materials.” This kind of embodied practice is notable in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) because craft is a practice that “bridges creative, practical, technical and scientific disciplines” (4). The mandate also urges the government to prioritize access to the routes of craft careers by properly funding and supporting collaborations between formal education sectors and the maker movement (5). It urges the government to “make more opportunities for craft businesses and educators to work together” (7) through avenues such as encouraging craft businesses to join advisory networks for schools. The importance of investing in skills throughout different levels of craft makers’ careers is emphasized, suggesting properly funding continuing professional development (CPD) for craft instructors (8). Lastly, they argue that the cross-disciplinary research between craft and science and technology provides cutting-edge results which require proper funding, and they call upon the UK government to address this (9).
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Fraser, S. (2003) Intellectual Colonialism: Post-War Avant-Garde Jewellery. In: Greenhalgh, P. ed., The persistence of craft: the applied arts today. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, pp. 173–184.

Gajjala, R. (2012) Cyberculture and the Subaltern: Weavings of the Virtual and Real. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books.

Government of Canada (2017) Public Services and Procurement Canada [Online]. Investing in Canada’s Future : Strengthening the Foundations of Canadian Research / Advisory Panel for the Review of Federal Support for Fundamental Science. 2017, https://publications.gc.ca/site/eng/9.839290/publication.html.

Government of Canada (2017) Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council [Online]. Available from: <http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/society-societe/community-communite/Imagining_Canadas_Future-Imaginer_l_avenir_du_Canada-eng.aspx?pedisable=true> [Accessed 30 September 2017].

Greenhalgh, P. (2003a) Introduction: Craft in a Changing World. In: The Persistence of Craft: The Applied Arts Today. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, pp. 1–17.

Greenhalgh, P. (2003b) The Persistence of Craft: The Applied Arts Today. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Grimshaw, David. “Learning from Music—Opportunities for Creative Craft Knowledge to Translate the Idealised Perfection of the Virtual, inTo the Expressive Materiality of Reality.” Conference presentation presented at the Canadian Craft Biennial Symposium, Can Craft? Craft Can!, Burlington, ON, September 15, 2017.

Haraway, D. J. & Randolph, L. (1997) ModestWitness@Second₋Millennium. FemaleMan₋Meets₋OncoMouse: Feminism and Technoscience. New York and London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Haraway, D. J. (1990) Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge.

Haraway, D. J. (2016) Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Harrod, T. (2008) Otherwise Unobtainable: The Applied Arts and the Politics and Poetics of Digital Technology. In: Alfoldy, S. ed., Neocraft: Modernity and Crafts. Halifax: Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, pp. 225–239.

Heller, L. & Millerson, D. (2017) Hands on the Tech: Craft, Pedagogy and the Digital Challenge. Presented at: Can Craft? Craft Can! Canadian Craft Biennial Symposium, September 2017, Art Gallery of Burlington, Burlington and OCAD University, Toronto.

Holdridge, L. & Macleod, K. (2006) Thinking Through Art: Reflections on Art as Research. 1st ed. London : New York: Routledge.

Hollan, James, Edwin Hutchins, and David Kirsh. “Distributed Cognition: Toward a New Foundation for Human-Computer Interaction Research.” ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 7, no. 2 (June 1, 2000): 174–96. https://doi.org/10.1145/353485.353487.

Illum, B. & Johansson, M. (2012) Transforming Physical Materials into Artefacts–Learning in the School’s Practice of Sloyd. Techne Series A, 19 (1), pp. 2–16.

Isaacson, W. (2014) The Innovators. New York: Simon & Schuster Audio.

Johansson, M. J. & Porko-Hudd, M. P.-H. (2013) Editorial. Making, Materiality and Knowledge. Techne Series-Research in Sloyd Education and Craft Science A [Online], 20 (3). Available from: <https://journals.hioa.no/index.php/techneA/article/view/700> [Accessed 1 December 2016].

Jönsson, L. (2008) Rethinking Dichotomies: Crafts and the Digital. In: Alfoldy, S. ed., Neocraft: Modernity and Crafts. Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, pp. 240–248.

Kelly, P. (2011) Unconsidered Activity, Craft Expertise and Reflective Practice in Teaching. Reflective Practice, 12 (4) August, pp. 557–568.
Kenning, G. (2015) Creative Craft-Based Textile Activity in the Age of Digital Systems and Practices. Leonardo, 48 (5) October, pp. 450–456.
Research Fellow at the University of New South Wales, Gail Kennings’ research focus is on health and wellbeing. Her work explores digital media, craft, expanded textiles, dexterity, health, wellbeing, dementia and ageing, taking the form of data visualization, programmed animation, video and photography and sculptural installation. In this 2015 article, she discusses her research into the creative potential of crochet and digital practices, to show that this domestic craft-based textile practice is a rich field of creative innovation. She argues that while domestic craft-based textile activities are seen as 'traditional' and 'lacking innovativeness', especially in comparison to 'fine art' and 'design', this 'women’s work' has more to offer than the mere repetitive 'copying' which is seen as the antithesis of how 'true creativity' is defined in a 21st-century sense.
Kenning argues that by the end of the 20th century, with a rise in digital media in the art sphere there was a shift in focus to systems and processes versus merely the aesthetic object (452-453). This focus on the process showed that in contrast to the copying and repetitiveness domestic craft is known for, the reliance on re-creation and reproduction as “form, content and structure” can articulate the practice (453). Crochet, as an evolution of needlepoint and tambouring, is itself a product of process as it "did not require the maker to closely follow designs marked onto a backing cloth, as required with needle laces" (453). It repeated an existing process and generated a new form and structure.
Placed within a digital realm, examination of crochet doilies allowed Kenning to "explore the patterns’ developmental potential arising out of the conjoining of the inherent properties of the patterns and the inherent properties of the digital environment" outside of merely examining the finished object (454): "The resultant patterns impacted and were impacted by the systems from which they were constructed and in which they existed. They developed beyond my control and expectations and without authorial intervention. Planned and unplanned events and mishaps or accidents were embraced—a familiar strategy in art practices that aim to shift the work away from the sole control of the maker." (454)
The importance of these generated patterns was not to be identified as crochet lace, but on translating the instantiations – the twists, turns, repetitions of the physical stitches – into digital media, removing the focus from a finished doily to what constituted the process of generating said doily (455). She suggests that based on the various conversations with domestic craft practitioners while carrying out this work, many of the women who crocheted these doilies discussed their approach to the craft in terms of wanting to be challenged and engage with the process of creativity.
What Kenning then asks is, what if the limitations of the craft were lifted allowing these practitioners to push the process? It is not the process of copying, Kenning argues, but three primary inhibitors which limit domestic craft from articulating the ingenuity inherent in the process of the work: prevailing dismissive attitudes to domestic craft which limit expectations of and by practitioners; focus on the outcome of the final object; and economic limitations which discourage innovation and experimentation (455). Her access to the tools by which to investigate the process and structure of the doily through digital media is but one example of the creativity ‘domestic craft’ encapsulates.
Koskinen, A., Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, P. & Hakkarainen, K. (2015) Interaction and Embodiment in Craft Teaching. Techne Series-Research in Sloyd Education and Craft Science A [Online], 22 (1). Available from: [Accessed 1 December 2016].
This article describes a study undertaken to examine the physical embodied aspect of pedagogy in textile classrooms, with particular attention to the construction of garments (60).
Results noted the ability of the teacher to use dress forms to develop the spacial ability of the students (65). Additionally, the teacher communicated parts of the garment by gesturing with her own body and clothing (66). This interaction with the student allowed them to understand the relationship between the pattern and finished garment as a spacial object (67). Thus the students own body was essential in the transmission of craft knowledge (70).
Labb, A. & Neely, E. (2014) Making Way for Maker Culture. EDUCAUSE, 49 (2) March, p. 58.

Larsson, G. (1902) Sloyd. Place of publication not identified: Nabu Press.
Lloyd-Zantiotis, A., and M. Olsson. “Losing the Art and Craft of Know-How: Capturing Vanishing Embodied Knowledge in the 21st Century.” Information Research: An International Electronic Journal, December 30, 2017. http://www.informationr.net/ir/.
Annemaree Lloyd, social science researcher whose work focuses on information cultures at the intersection of information, learning and practice, and Michael R. Olsson, researcher in the field of information behaviour/information practices research, with a particular interest in information/knowledge sharing through in academic, professional and artistic communities. Dr. Olsson's work is interdisciplinary and he is strongly associated with the emergence of new discourse analytic and social constructivist approaches to information research, focusing particularly on the social construction of information & knowledge and the inter-relationship of meaning and authority (Knowledge/Power). 
In this 2017 paper, Lloyd and Olsson study a group of classic car owners and their practices with maintenance and restoration with the aim of investigating and describing how car enthusiasts acquire, preserve and pass on embodied information practices. Classic car ownership, they explain, while a thriving global industry faces the threat of the disappearance of embodied knowledge and skills essential for maintenance, a situation further exacerbated by innovations in automotive design and manufacturing over time (1). Their methodological approach observed the processes and analyzed this from the position of ‘information practices’.

“Contemporary research into information practices has shown, a range of other forms of information or ways of knowing are significantly underrepresented in information research as well as being largely missing from institutional collections. These include information relating to embodied and cultural practices and skills of craft and trades people, which historically have been passed down via master-apprentice relationships” (2). Lloyd and Olsson argue that practices are formed and refined in relation to embodied knowledge, thus, the enactment of a practice in different settings is a direct reflection of varying degrees of knowledge and the social conditions within which that knowledge is nurtured or constrained. Knowledge, they state, is not limited to what one thinks they know, but also pertains to instinctual inclinations that are subconsciously formed through repeatedly doing. This instinctual knowledge can have a significant effect on the outcome of a craft (3). Their approach to analyzing these practices is informed by the holistic approach of Dervin, who argues that sense-making should be seen as “embodied in materiality and soaring across time-space…a body-mind-heart-spirit living in time-space, moving from a past, in a present, to a future, anchored in material conditions…” (4).

Their research questions asked the following three things: how are embodied practices accessed and preserved; how do embodied practices travel; and, what is the role of the information professions, institutions and research in preserving vanishing embodied information practices. The study was conducted through “semi-structured interviews and in the garage ethnographic observation of six Australasian car enthusiasts currently involved in the restoration of one or more classic cars,” in which the participants would often break the interview to demonstrate techniques that they were describing - providing longer, more detailed explanations as they occurred to them (4). The study uncovered a wealth of information, some of which is not yet recorded in previous studies on behavior research. It also found that most of the participants lacked any kind of theoretical knowledge or formal training in their craft but had developed their knowledge base through continuous hands-on exploration (5). Documentation of cultivated knowledge was mostly lacking, with hard-to-obtain factory workshop manuals being one of the only sources for many looking to get a foothold in the craft (6).

Of note was that car clubs, mentoring and other informal social networks in which people could share tips at their leisure and demonstrate, rather than simply explain, were proven to be an invaluable method of information sharing which allowed for what appeared to be an almost innate knowledge to be passed on (7). An inconvenience which Lloyd and Olsson observed developing was that due to the popularity and rapid growth of these clubs, the declining number of seasoned enthusiasts in relation to the influx of aspiring car enthusiasts removed some of the expertise their specialty relied on. Despite this some enthusiasts found valuable resources in car friends, with whom they shared knowledge which they themselves have found through trial and error (8). Even with resources like manuals this at their disposal, participants emphasized the importance of “learning by doing,” arguing that a manual “can only take you so far.” Many also noted the internet as an important resource, due to the ability to instantly share various types of information quickly, citing video sharing cites such as YouTube as invaluable learning aids for visual learners (9).

The consensus of the survey participants was that the experience of cultivating knowledge through one’s own exploration yielded a sense of achievement, where the act of making or discovering something with their own hands makes them feel more strongly connected to it (10).

Lomax, Yve. 1995. “Folds in the Photograph.” Third Text 9 (32): 43–58. https://doi.org/10.1080/09528829508576563.

Malafouris, L. (2015) Metaplasticity and the Primacy of Material Engagement. Time and Mind, 8 (4) October, pp. 351–371.
McCullough, Malcolm. Abstracting Craft: The Practiced Digital Hand. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1997.
The love of making things need not be confined to the physical world —electronic form giving can also be a rewarding hands-on experience. In this investigation of the possibility of craft in the digital realm, Malcolm McCullough observes that the emergence of computation as a medium, rather than just a set of tools, suggests a growing correspondence between digital work and traditional craft.

Personal and conversational in tone, with examples and illustrations drawn from a variety of disciplines, Abstracting Craft shows that anyone who gives form with software, whether in architecture, painting, animating, modeling, simulating, or manufacturing, is practicing personal knowledge and producing visual artifacts that, although not material, are nevertheless products of the hands, eyes, and mind.

Chapter by chapter, McCullough builds a case for upholding humane traits and values during the formative stages of new practices in digital media. He covers the nature of hand-eye coordination; the working context of the image culture; aspects of tool usage and medium appreciation; uses and limitations of symbolic methods; issues in human-computer interaction; geometric constructions and abstract methods in design; the necessity of improvisation; and the personal worth of work.

For those new to computing, McCullough offers an inside view of what the technology is like, what the important technical issues are, and how creative computing fits within a larger intellectual history. Specialists in human-computer interaction will find an interesting case study of the anthropological and psychological issues that matter to designers. Artificial intelligence researchers will be reminded that much activity fails to fit articulable formalisms. Aesthetic theorists will find a curiously developed case of neostructuralism, and cultural critics will be asked to imagine a praxis in which technology no longer represents an authoritarian opposition. Finally, the unheralded legions of digital craftspersons will find a full-blown acknowledgment of their artistry and humanity.
Meyer, D. J. C. & Kadolph, S. J. (2005) The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Textiles and Apparel. Clothing and Textiles Research Journal, 23 (4) September, pp. 209–215.

Morris, K. (2017) Interviews for Craft, Pedagogy and the Digital Challenge, Kathleen Morris. Toronto, ON.

Morris, W. & Salmon, N. (1994) Political Writings of William Morris. England: Thoemmes Press.

Nimkulrat, N. (2016) Crafting Textiles in the Digital Age. London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Nitsche, M., Quitmeyer, A., Farina, K., Zwaan, S. & Nam, H. Y. (2014) Teaching Digital Craft [Online]. Toronto: ACM Press, pp. 719–730. Available from: <http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=2559206.2578872> [Accessed 1 December 2016].
O’Connor, Erin. “Embodied Knowledge in Glassblowing: The Experience of Meaning and the Struggle towards Proficiency.” The Sociological Review 55, no. s1 (2007): 126–41. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-954X.2007.00697.x.
Erin O’Connor is an Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Politics and Human Rights at Marymount Manhattan College in New York. She specializes in the field of ethnography, culture, art, work, knowledge, body, craft and phenomenology.

O’Connor came to glassblowing as part of a research design project as a way to gain proficiency in a craft skill. Instead of interviewing experts in the field of ceramics, textiles and glassblowing, she chose to learn a craft herself and concentrated on glassblowing. Her article is the result of a four-year continuous study and has published a number of articles on the subject of glassblowing in relation to tacit knowledge, practical knowledge and embodiment. Although the article was published in 2007, the detail about her understanding “cognitive and corporeal practice” is relevant to our project, as well as her detailed notes and observances she wrote after each lesson in order to help with her. Knowledge in philosophical concepts is important. The author relies on Merleau-Ponty and phenomenology, Bourdieu’s habitus and Polanyi’s embeddedness.

The article is broken down into three sections which details her experience as an apprentice. In the first part she describes how a novice has to learn to “read their practice”, not only describing each of the steps it takes to make a simple-looking object like a goblet, but to recognize the cues given to the apprentice by observing their environment, the behaviour of their material and the instructions by their assistant (glassblowing is not an act done alone). O”Connor writes that the apprentice is “encouraged a shift towards this lived type of awareness” (130) while also trying to adapt to this new corporeal experience and making sense of their “established habitus” (137). “Sense-making happened otherwise than through this retrospective meaning-making” (131).

The second section is about finding meaning in the practice, where the author describes how “when the interpretive effort of ‘reading’ the practice, understanding how the parts fit into the whole, remains salient to that practice (as essentially a semantic understanding of meaning) it forms an immense barrier to the lived experience of the craft as meaningful” (131). She notes the body recognizes certain things such as the heat, the weight of the tools and material like glass, and adapting to those changes through “a process of bodily restructuration” (132).

In the last section, O’Connor discuss the proficiency of a skill which occurs over repeated actions, not just observations. The author quotes Wacquant where the apprentice tries to “ “understand what you have to do, you watch the others box, but you do not truly see what they are doing unless you have already understood a little with your eyes, that is to say, with your body” ” (138). The experience of becoming an apprentice gave the author the understanding of how a new skill or craft is developed, how it is honed and mastered over time.

Oussoren, Aaron, Philip Robbins, and Keith Doyle. “Digital Making- 3D Printing and Artisanal Glass Production.” Emily Carr University of Art + Design, n.d.

Patra, S. K. (2013) Book Review: Cyberculture and the Subaltern: Weavings of the Virtual and Real. Journal of Creative Communications, 8 (2–3) July, pp. 279–282.

Perry, G. (2005) A Refuge for Artists Who Play It Safe. The Guardian [Online], 5 March. Available from: <http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2005/mar/05/art> [Accessed 10 March 2014].
Rancière, J. (1991) The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation. Standford, CA: Stanford University Press.
This extraordinary book can be read on several levels. Primarily, it is the story of Joseph Jacotot, an exiled French schoolteacher who discovered in 1818 an unconventional teaching method that spread panic throughout the learned community of Europe.

Knowing no Flemish, Jacotot found himself able to teach in French to Flemish students who know no French; knowledge, Jacotot concluded, was not necessary to teach, nor explication necessary to learn. The results of this unusual experiment in pedagogy led him to announce that all people were equally intelligent. From this postulate, Jacotot devised a philosophy and a method for what he called "intellectual emancipation"--a method that would allow, for instance, illiterate parents to themselves teach their children how to read. The greater part of the book is devoted to a description and analysis of Jacotot's method, its premises, and (perhaps most important) its implications for understanding both the learning process and the emancipation that results when that most subtle of hierarchies, intelligence, is overturned.

The book, as Kristin Ross argues in her introduction, has profound implications for the ongoing debate about education and class in France that has raged since the student riots of 1968, and it affords Ranciere an opportunity (albeit indirectly) to attack the influential educational and sociological theories of Pierre Bourdieu (and others) that Ranciere sees as perpetuating inequality.
Risatti, H. (2007) A Theory of Craft: Function and Aesthetic Expression. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Howard Risatti is a historian and professor, Now emeritus, he was chair of the Department of Craft/Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University just before writing this book. He brings a historical and academic voice to the understanding of craft. Apart from a general discussion of what is craft and its relationship to art and design Risatti also talks about issues that are foundational for Craft and the Digital Turn. Some of the writing is more pertinent, for example he has a section called "Comparing Machines, Tools, and Craft Objects" which is directly useful to the project.

His discussion of the differences between craft, art and design are important to assimulate. He dives into an extensive discussion of terminology which is productive for developing volcabulary.

Of interest to the team mixture of the CDT project is his discussion of industrial design as some of us identify as industrial designers. "...the design profession, which rose to prominence in the wake of industrialized machine production, has transformed craft's fundamental relationship to function by taking over production of most of the functional objects of daily use" (XIII, e-book).

Chapter 3 and 4 deal with tools and machines. Once again, he is exceedingly careful with definitions and really sussing out differences. He thinks of tools differently than machines and argues that "Tools carry out tasks adn thus belong to that group within applied objects that be said to "work." In this sense, theprupose of the chisel, plane, file, hammer, sew, and all other such tools is to bring self-contained things, things that are ends in and of themselves, into being." (p. 43) He has a footnote to accompany this quote that further this argument.

He defines machines as tools that alter force and therefore are fundamentally different than tools which are directly connected to the sensitivity and abilities of the hand. "...a machine alters the direction and/or magnitude of a force in such a way as to produce mechanical advantage." (p. 49)

He suggests at one point "Associations and level of skill in making must not be confused with the object made". (p. 47). I disagree with this thesis as I think how something is made and in which tradition has a lot to do with what it is.

He does discuss embodiment in his assumptions about tools and machines and that is perhaps a useful argument to help think through the digital versus the analogue. Machines embody people to the point of erasing them whereas tools help a person to embody their skill. So what does the digital do?

Roberts, J. (2007) The Intangibilities of Form: Skill and Deskilling in Art after the Readymade. London; New York: Verso.
This book elaborates a labor theory of culture as a model for explaining the dynamics of avant-garde art and the modern expansion of the circuits of artitstic authorship. It involves less a discussion of specific artworks than an analysis of the kinds of labor contained in artworks as a reflection on a wider debate about artistic labor and productive and non-productive labor and the limits and possibilites of authorship.
Rocamora, A. & Smelik, A. (2015) Thinking through Fashion. A Guide to Key Theorists. London: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd.
The field of fashion is now a major topic of enquiry in social and cultural theory. However, students often find it difficult to apply key social and cultural theoretical frameworks and concepts to their study of fashion. This book is designed to fill this gap for how we think through fashion. Each chapter is a guide through the work of a selected major thinker, such as Marx, Freud, Simmel, Benjamin, Bakhtin, Barthes, Goffman, Deleuze, Foucault, Baudrillard and Butler, introducing key concepts and ideas, discussing how they have been appropriated by various authors to engage with the topics of fashion, dress and appearance, and looking at other ways in which they can be taken over to reflect on these topics.
Rose, G. (2011) Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. London: Sage.

Salomon, O. A. (1911) The Theory of Educational Sloyd: The Only Authorised Edition of Lectures of Otto Salomon. Boston: Silver, Burdett & Co.

Sennett, R. (2008) The Craftsman. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Shiner, Larry. “‘Blurred Boundaries’? Rethinking the Concept of Craft and Its Relation to Art and Design.” Philosophy Compass 7, no. 4 (2012): 230–244. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1747-9991.2012.00479.x.
Art world talk of “blurred boundaries” and “hybrids” between art and craft, suggests that the philosophy of art needs to rethink the concept of craft. This can best be done by adopting four strategies: first, distinguish between craft as a set of disciplines, and craft as a process and practice; second, keep in mind the differences among craft practices such as studio, trade, ethnic, amateur, and DIY; third, recognize that craft’s relationship with design is as important as its relationship to art; fourth, attend to the role digital design and fabrication are playing in craft and art today. At the core of the craft process are three contested characteristics found in most craft practices: hand, material, and skill, although these are better understood as body, medium, and mastery. After discussing a fourth contested characteristic of many craft and design practices, function, I show that none of the four characteristics is a requisite condition for artistic practice today, yet none are excluded from contemporary (fine) art, despite its current “post-studio” or “post-disciplinary” tendencies. I conclude that the boundary between art and craft conceived as a set of disciplines defined by materials and techniques has not become blurred, it has all but disappeared. On the other hand, I show through an analysis of some references to “mere craft” by Stephen Davies and Arthur Danto, that craft conceived as a process and practice can be understood as distinct from art, but in a non-invidious sense.
Shiner, Larry. “Art’s Abject Other or the ‘New Cool’? Should Philosophy Rethink the Art/Craft Dichotomy?,” 2012. http://www.aesthetics-online.org/articles/index.php?articles_id=65

Sims, G. (2017) Interviews for Craft, Pedagogy and the Digital Challenge, Greg Sims. Toronto, ON.

Smith, Roberta. “At the Costume Institute, Couture Meets Technology - NYTimes.Com.” The New York Times, May 5, 2016, sec. Art & Design. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/06/arts/design/review-at-the-costume-institute-couture-meets-technology.html?nytmobile=0

Studio Magazine – Craft & Design in Canada (n.d.) Studio Magazine – Craft & Design in Canada [Online]. Studio Magazine – Craft & Design in Canada. Available from: <http://studiomagazine.ca/> [Accessed 15 October 2017].

Sullivan, G. (2005) Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in the Visual Arts. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

The Journal of Modern Craft (n.d.) [Online]. Available from: <http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rfmc20?open=10&year=2017&repitition=0#vol_10_2017> [Accessed 15 October 2017].

Treadaway, C. (2004) Digital Imagination: The Impact of Digital Imaging on Printed Textiles. Textile, 2 (3) September, pp. 256–274.

Wallace, Jayne, and Mike Press. “All This Useless Beauty: The Case for Craft Practice in Design for a Digital Age.” The Design Journal 7, no. 2 (July 1, 2004): 42–53. https://doi.org/10.2752/146069204789354417.
Jayne Wallace is a co-Editor of the Journal of Jewellery Research, Professor of Craft and Wellbeing at Sheffield Hallam University, and, PI on the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) project “Enabling Ongoingness: Content Creation & Consumption in the New Digital Age.” Her current research focuses on the ways in which digital media creation and consumption practices can improve the various continuing stages of our lives. Mike Press is the former Head of Gray’s School of Art, and current director of Open Change, a service design and innovation company working with institutions such as the NHS in the service of utilising design to better lives.

In this 2004 article, Wallace and Press explore digital jewellery and wellbeing, and, make the argument that it is crucial to center the beauty embodied in craft in the design process, specifically when considering the user experience. They argue that digital jewellery, such as an Apple watch (my example, not the authors), should engender an “environment of familiarity with the object and yet an ambiguity of function … [wherein] the function of the digital element of the piece is based on personal emotional significance relating to personal meaning, rather than a function of task” (46). More than Dewey’s 1943 idea of beauty as “an admiration that approaches worship,” or, Kirwan’s 1999 idea of beauty as “an unconscious sense of the prevailing course of our life,” they argue that beauty is “centred on experience rather than objectified possession” and this is what the craft maker personifies (44): “The craft maker is the only person who creates their object. This object arises from an intimate relationship between the maker and their material and, indeed, an attachment with it. … It is this love of labour, process, material and object that is distinctive, and it is this which discovers the qualities of beauty in the object” (45).

Three characteristics embodied by craft which they deem useful to enhancing our interactions with technology are enchantment, empathy, and intuition. They draw on John McCarthy and Peter Wright’s concept of enchantment as “an experience of being caught up and carried away in which, although we are disoriented, perception and attention are heightened … to the extent that it awakens us to wonder and to the wonder of life, it is enlivening” (46). Empathy, they indicate, is about the relationships we form with “people, materials and processes: an awareness of social, personal and emotional sensitivities. To empathize is to seek to see the situation through another's eyes, to gain someone's perspective and to share our own” (48). Intuition is defined as “knowingness, a sense, a form of navigation within the process of craft. It is about trusting our personal compass by which we feel ‘what is right’ and what is not. It is about being sensitive to ourselves” (50).

Craft, for Wallace and Press, embodies all these things because it facilitates the interpretive relationship which unifies maker, material and user (45); the maker fosters a relationship between the central concerns of the work and its audience (48); and, the relational activity of making has at its core reasoned experience fortified over time - intuition (51). If craft then embodies these ‘eternal elements of beauty’ as set out by the authors, it possesses the ideal conditions to allow beauty to be experienced by both the maker and the user: it “provides the conceptual and empathetic means of addressing a far broader range of experiential issues that extend the relevance and value of emerging technologies” (51-52).

“Craft finds beauty and design puts that beauty to work” (44).


Heller, L, and Dorie Millerson. “Craft Pedagogy in Precarious Times,” 2021. https://vimeo.com/627907417.

Heller, Lynne, and Dorie Millerson. “Craft, Pedagogy, and the Digital Challenge: A Jewelry Perspective." Digital Meets Handmade, State University of New York Press, 2021.

Heller, L. “Sensuality, AR/VR, and the Virtual Sublime.” Edited by Dragan Cvetkovic. Virtual Reality and Its Application in Education, edited by Dragan Cvetkovic, IntechOpen, 2020. https://doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.92894.

Heller, Lynne. “The Intrinsic Irony of the Future Sublime.” Canadian Review of American Studies, vol. 50, no. 3, Dec. 2020, pp. 377–98. DOI.org (Crossref), doi:10.3138/cras-2020-006.

Heller, L, and D. Millerson. Craft, Pedagogy and the Digital Challenge—A Jewelry Perspective. Digital Meets Handmade: Jewelry in the 21st Century, Fashion Institute of Technology, USA, 2018.

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Heller, L. “One for Sorrow: A Handmade Virtual Reality Experience.” Contemporary Paths: Realities of Art, Science and Technology, edited by Pablo Gobira, State University of Minas Gerais, 2018.

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