Artisanal: what are we talking about when we talk about crafts?

Artisanal: what are we talking about when we talk about crafts?

What is a craft product then?

The craft is fashionable.

Many people seem to have realized that industrial production has disadvantages both for the quality of the product that is usually less than in the artisanal production, and for the duration of it, even for the environment.

In the world of mass production some of the time goods are made specifically designed to not last and this causes problems of all kinds, including the generation of waste that sometimes are not easy to manage and end up as a problem for the environment.

But the truth is that to demarcate what is craftsmanship, of what is not, is not simple.

We can do it very intuitively in opposition to the industrial, artisanal would be all that production that is not mechanized.

Eutimio Tovar Rodríguez in "The craftsmanship its economic and social importance" has proposed as a definition of craftsmanship:

"all creative manual technique, to produce individually, goods and servicess"

and therefore has defined industry as

"all applied mechanical technique, to produce socially , goods and services".

craft work

Then you can not use machines in a craft production?

The truth is that from the lathes  the potters have been spinning for millennia in the handicraft of the clay, passing through the looms in the obtaining of the threads and the fabrics, machinery has always been used in the handicraft production.

So it is not the essential element to differentiate an artisanal product, made by hand, from an industrial one?

According to the definition adopted by the UNESCO / ITC Symposium "Crafts and the international market: trade and customs coding" (Manila, 1997),

"Craft products are those produced by artisans, either entirely by hand, or with the help of hand tools or even mechanical means, provided that the direct manual contribution of the artisan remains the most important component of the finished product ..."

In this part of the definition of craftsmanship made by UNESCO, it is clear that craft can be made with tools or mechanical means, a good machine euphemism, do not you think?

The key for us is in the final part of this paragraph of the definition "... as long as the direct manual contribution of the craftsman remains the most important component of the finished product."

Once this individual component disappears, we can hardly talk about an artisanal product.

On the other hand what is done by hand must be a fundamental part of the work, and it is, since it contributes a differential fact to each piece that the craftsman does.

Craftsmanship as a material activity is clearly differentiated from serial or industrial work.

For a craft product to be considered as such, it must be worked by hand and the fewer industrial processes it has, the more artisanal it will be.

We will add a condition that the UNESCO definition does not include and that the process must be carried out entirely by craftsmen from beginning to end.

Because otherwise it can lead to confusion with other types of activities such as crafts and / or shipowners at the hand of industrial products, which can not or should not be considered as handcrafted.

Let's continue with the UNESCO definition of craftsmanship, the first sentence is complemented by this second one:

"They are produced without limitation in terms of quantity and using raw materials from sustainable resources."

And this for us is important, the artisan must be respectful with the environment in which we subsist.

It should not in any way drain resources but work in balance with them.

The artisan must flee from mass production.

The artisan must flee from mass production

Each piece must bear the personal stamp that the craftsman who makes it gives to that object.

A piece far from being exactly the same as the previous one, has that component that is the fact of having been made by human hands, with imperfections and differences with respect to another similar piece that provides it.

The definition of UNESCO ends:

"The special nature of artisanal products is based on their distinctive characteristics, which can be utilitarian, aesthetic, artistic, creative, linked to culture, decorative, functional, traditional, symbolic and religiously and socially significant."

Craftsmanship is a totally cultural object, since it has the particularity of varying depending on the social context, the landscape, the climate, the history and the people of the place where it is made.

Therefore the cultural and social heritage has a significant weight in the craftsmanship that any artisan develops.

That a product is made by artisanal means that it is made by artisans, worth the redundancy and always produced by hand or with the help of mechanical means, but never industrially.

They are recognized not only for the limited production of the same, but for being unique products in the sense that normally there are no two products exactly the same.

The fact that they are manual in their realization will always make them slightly different from each other.

Thus, a handmade product will be, at least for us, a unique product made by hand or with a strictly manual mechanical intervention, with a production that respects the environment and is linked to the cultural and social heritage of the community where the artisan develops your work.

And that's what you'll find in the craft section of the Web.

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