As if learning and executing one craft to perfection wasn't enough, …
Sometimes it takes a little bit of exploring and experimenting to find out what you really enjoy doing. Secondly, it makes very good business sense to combine two complimentary Art-forms. For example, woodworking and metal working combine to make decorative and very functional crafts that are popular and sell very well.
Even if you look a little into the history you will find that many of the great masters that you probably know for only one art-form were actually multi-talented. The most famous example that I can think of is Picasso. Everyone knows about his paintings but do you also know that he was a potter? Similarly other artists work with furniture design, textiles crafts et cetera.
Here are five broad categories of different kinds of crafts. These broad categories define a medium, theme or interest that might appeal to you more than another.
Within each category there are dozens of possibilities and choices. For example, textile craft is a one category. Within that one can take up weaving, hand printing et cetera.
I have always been fascinated with the textile crafts. These include fabric weaving, dyeing, block / hand printing, pattern designing etc. I am not including needle crafts here because while technically they are also ‘textile crafts’, they are a part of a very different creative process. They belong more in the categories of functional and fashion crafts.
Think of the beginning stages of the creation of fabric itself, before it is turned into specific things. Those are considered textile crafts.
Fabric weaving is a very interesting and rewarding craft. Today, handloom weaving has been taken over by large factories. Individual weavers are rare and few. So there is a novelty to hand woven fabrics. You can definitely take advantage of this if you can deliver on the promise of both quality and beauty.
Offer ingenuity and creativity
Understand this. When it comes to handicrafts, try and offer value every time., Something that is not also available as a mass manufactured product. This adds to the ‘wow’ notion of a handmade craft. As an artist or artisan you have the opportunity to deliver unique crafts and unique value to appreciative patrons. Endeavour to achieve this through your work.
Ingenuity and creativity are the hallmark of handmade crafts. You can then charge what you deserve for your work and can expect to find willing buyers. Finding and targeting the correct buyer is an important and entirely different activity and skill. Not getting into that here but you can read more about more on the subject in this post.
Create specialties and niches
When it comes to fabric weaving you can create new textures, new blends, colours and patterns. Make it all natural and organic to create a more niche craft and target people with sensitive skin and allergies. Targeting specific niches is an extremely profitable way to do any kind of business. You can read more on the subject of niches here.
It is common practice combining different processes to make your own unique draft. So fabric weaving can also be combined with other textile crafts like fabric dying, block printing et cetera. Things get even more interesting the further you extend your learning and knowledge of a craft form.
Tap into different techniques from all over the world
You will probably be aware that to different places have very different heritage, history and traditions. A craft can have many varied farms in different places, because things are done differently over there. I live in a country where craft forms and techniques can change drastically once you start covering some ground.
There are entire cites and states that are known for producing certain crafts and supply the entire nation. For example, a city is know as the place where the best and most experienced carpet makers are to be found. It is an old tradition and vocation that is passed from one generation to another for decades.
Similarly, another city is known for making the best glasswork, while another is known for making shoes that are not only supplied nationally but for all major brands all over the world.
A craft takes on even more diverse forms if you consider examining it globally . For textile crafts alone, different parts of the world use different techniques that create uniquely different crafts. Introducing any kind of a foreign flavour to a craft is also a very good way of creating value And uniqueness in your craft.
So another good lesson here: keep growing in knowledge and in your craft. It will help keep your work fresh and appealing. Just as importantly, it will keep things exciting and motivating for you, and stay motivated with your art business as is as important to your success as any other factor.
Dividing crafts into categories it's not a precise science all together. Categories are bound to overlap because what is a decorative craft can also be a functional one and what is functional can also be a fashion craft. However, we try to make this distinction by focusing on the primary usage of the craft.
Therefore, functional crafts are by definition crafts that are created to serve a utilitarian purpose foremost. Of course, in the hands of a talented craftsperson, even the practical crafts turn out to be a thing of beauty and decoration.
For me, at least, attractiveness should be an inherent part of all hand crafts. No one likes a shoddily made craft no matter how much the utility. Don’t confuse simplicity with poor craftsmanship. A craft can be extremely simple and yet have excellent workmanship.
Similarly functionality is a strong selling point for most crafts, specially for people who would not like to pay for decorative items alone. You broaden your customer base and add value to the craft, getting a better selling price. That is the beauty of crafts. They serve the purpose of beautifying your space and serve a purpose.
Examples of functional crafts are :
- Furniture making
- Basket making
Sewing and woodworking are perfect examples of overlapping craft categories. By sewing, an artisan, can create all kinds of crafts that are decorative, functional, fashion or all of the above.
Paper crafts are all around us in everyday life in all their utility and simplicity. They serve so many purposes in the most non assuming and pretentious ways. Most of these things are functional and so we don’t think of them as really crafts.
However, paper is also a medium that still holds a lot of charm for both artisans and craft lovers. Most of us will remember being introduced to some form of paper craft at a very young age in school. Well, there are plenty of professionals out there as well making and selling paper crafts.
Examples of popular paper crafts are:
- Paper Flowers
- Card Making
- Paper Cutting
- Paper Making
- Paper Model
- Paper Sculpture
Read more about making and selling paper crafts.
Combine fashion and handmade crafts, and you have on your hands the formula for a hot selling item.
You are probably aware of the fact that apparel and accessories are one of the most popular commodities worldwide. They occupy perhaps the most number of stores in the world.￼ So when you fashion your handmade crafts on fashion trends you tap into that same popularity and demand.
Fashion accessories are immensely popular and they suit handicrafts admirably. Handmade fashion accessories can have their own special flavour and differ from what might be available commercially.
A lot of commercially available fashion apparel and accessories are actually also handmade. There are very large manufacturing units where hundreds of people sew clothes, cobble shoes et cetera. But the advantage that an artisan has is that they can create more singular crafts. They do not have to think about making only that which will sell in bulk.
They have the freedom to try different things, experiment with different materials create new designs, get more personal by targeting a specific buyer profile. They can do all this to fine-tune their business.
Some examples of fashion crafts are:
I will take the example of jewellery and leather to talk a little more about fashion crafts.
Both leather and jewellery have a great potential for a very successful business. It really depends on what level of expertise you can operate on. You can make and sell handmade jewellery like beadwork, which is commonplace, are you can get into metalwork which very few￼ artisans do.
Leatherwork is also not all that common with artisans, because it’s trickier and unforgiving.
Shoes, bells, bags, wallet, gloves, cases and covers, phone accessories, boxes, tabletop accessories are just something samples of crafts that can be handmade with leather.
There are a few reasons why leather crafts are not common with artisans. ￼
- Crafts like shoemaking require some very special knowledge and craftsmanship.
- Cutting and sewing leather is a different skill to working with, let’s say, fabric.
- Sourcing the raw material that is leather, is not easy. You have to find a reliable source, which is often not anywhere close to where you live or work. Consistency of supply and quality is also a big issue.
- There are many rules and regulations around sourcing and selling leather goods.
- Leather is an un-forgiving material. Let's say you are sewing a bag or a belt. If you make it with cloth you can make an error and in most cases recover from the mistake, and correct it quite easily. The same is not possible with leather because every time you put a needle through it you make a permanent hole in the material. If you get it wrong you just have to start afresh with a fresh piece of leather. The old one is rendered useless unless you can use it for something else.
Working with leather substitutes reduce the above problems to a large extent. A good quality leatherette (Imitation leather) material and give an excellent real leather like finish, reduces the cost of raw materials and final selling price, both of which are an advantage to work with and selling leather crafts.
The conclusion I am trying to draw is that, try to go deeper with the crafts you create. Even if it means having to learn something new. Creating new and interesting crafts will work for you when it comes to making sales and will keep you inspired when working.
Usually all crafts are functional. But some are merely for decoration and they fall into the category of decorative crafts. Much like fine arts they are meant for adorning your walls and other living spaces, with the difference being that they are not exclusive like a piece of fine art. Several people can own the same craft. The examples of purely decorative crafts, and I cannot think of many, are:
- glass staining
- wall tapestry
- miniature models made from ceramic or paper
Decoration crafts are found in all craft categories like fabric, wood work, metallurgy et cetera.
Seasonal and festive crafts like Christmas decorations and ornaments can also be included in this category. With that we come to a conclusion of the main categories of crafts you can choose to work in. The idea of reading this article was to convey the immense scope and variety of working as an artisan.
I hope you find this information helpful and I also invite you to make your contributions in the comment section below.