Some thoughts on craft and crafting.

On the ‘About’ page for this blog, I have called myself a ‘crafter’ – which I am – but it’s a term that I probably need to expand on a little, since my definition is broad, than rather precise, and acknowledges working with insubstantial materials, like words, and with esoteric forces (like magic) alongside the mundane.

The Mirriam Webster on-line dictionary defines ‘craft‘ as:

Skill in planning, making, or executing;
An occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill <the carpenter’s craft> <the craft of writing plays> <crafts such as pottery, carpentry, and sewing>
Skill in deceiving to gain an end <used craft and guile to close the deal>;
The members of a trade or trade association;
plural usually craft a :  a boat especially of small size b : aircraft c : spacecraft

Put that last one aside for a minute (boats, planes and rockets being potential subjects of my crafting, rather than products of it), and focus on the others.  The word ‘craft’ comes from the Old English cræft, meaning skill, strength, and is related to the Old Norse kraptr power, skill, and the Old High German kraft.  The definitions as given cover a range of activities, all of which – arguably – focus on the creation of something.  That could be an item, an idea, or even the realisation of an intention.

Mirriam Webster goes on to extend the definition of craft with a wider discussion of synonyms:

Art, skill, cunning, artifice, craft mean the faculty of executing well what one has devised.
Art implies a personal, unanalyzable creative power
Skill stresses technical knowledge and proficiency
Cunning suggests ingenuity and subtlety in devising, inventing, or executing
Artifice suggests technical skill especially in imitating things in nature
Craft may imply expertness in workmanship

The common understanding of the term crafter (one who crafts) tends to focus on art, and skill.  There are, inevitably, discussions and disagreements about where the dividing line between crafter and artist lies (and even whether there is a line, for that matter.)  There is probably a spectrum that runs between making and creating, with hobby ‘crafters’ at one end, making things from kits and published patterns, through a variety of dabblers and amateurs, to the professional artist/crafter at the other.  I tend to hang around in the middle of that, mostly working in textiles, trying out techniques and being generally interested in all sorts of things.

When I’m not busy stitching (or weaving, or spinning, or painting, or dyeing, etc, etc) I’m something of a storyteller: a practitioner of wordcraft, creating characters and settings, exploring ideas, weaving words into new patterns, and wrestling with sentences in the hope they make sense.  (I don’t always succeed, but I do try …)

Occasionally, I practice another kind of craft.  One that brings in aspects of both cunning and artifice.

Which is why my definition of crafter extends from needlecraft, through wordcraft, and ends up with Witchcraft.

And sometimes, you’ll find me weaving all three together …