Cræft by Alexander Langlands
An Inquiry Into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts

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...using a combination of memoir, history and cultural commentary – in the first chapter Langlands has his own Poldark moment with a scythe – Langlands makes a coherent and enjoyable argument for “not just a knowledge of making but a knowledge of being”.
-Guardian

Synopsis

An archaeologist takes us into the ancient world of traditional crafts to uncover their deep, original histories.

In the midst of a seemingly endless supply of mass-manufactured products, we find ourselves nostalgic for products bearing the mark of authenticity―hand-made furniture, artisan breads, craft beers, and other goods produced by human hands. What often goes unnoticed is the transformation of our understanding of craft―or rather, craft―in the wake of industrialization.

In Craft, archaeologist and medieval historian Alexander Langlands argues that our modern understanding of craft only skims the surface. His journeys from his home in Wales have taken him along the Atlantic seaboard of Europe, from Spain through France and England to Scotland and Iceland in search of the lost meaning of craft. Reaching as far back as the Neolithic period, he combines deep history with scientific analyses and personal anecdotes. We follow the author as he herds sheep, keeps bees, tans hides, spins wool, and thatches roofs. We learn that scythes work much better on tall grass than the latest model of weed trimmers, that you can spin wool using a large wooden spoon, and that it was once considered criminal to work on animal hides before a requisite twelve-month soak.

When it first appeared in Old English, the word craft signified an indefinable sense of knowledge, wisdom, and resourcefulness. Rediscovering craft will connect us with our human past, our sense of place, and our remarkable capacity to survive in the harshest of landscapes. Craft helps us more fully appreciate human ingenuity and the passing on of traditions from generation to generation.

15 illustrations
 

About Alexander Langlands

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Published January 2, 2018 by W. W. Norton & Company. 352 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Crafts, Hobbies & Home, Travel.
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Critic reviews for Cræft
All: 2 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on Sep 12 2017

Humans are makers, the author argues persuasively in this illuminating book, in need of renewed connection to the intelligence and ingenuity of craft.

Read Full Review of Cræft: An Inquiry Into the Or... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Ben East on Nov 19 2017

...using a combination of memoir, history and cultural commentary – in the first chapter Langlands has his own Poldark moment with a scythe – Langlands makes a coherent and enjoyable argument for “not just a knowledge of making but a knowledge of being”.

Read Full Review of Cræft: An Inquiry Into the Or... | See more reviews from Guardian
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