Entries by Judy Frater

Imagining the Maker

July 8, 2023 How do we imagine makers? As generic hands without heads? Years ago, a college graduate bandhani artist who wore a button-down shirt and pants told me no one ever believed he dyed, let alone tied his own work. Historically, because artisans work with their hands they were usually lower status Hindu and/or […]

Hierarchy: Craft and Maker

July 1, 2023 In India, social status doesn’t always relate to economic status. In the Hindu caste system, working with hands is inversely proportional to social status. Among makers, material and product further determined social status.  Because shoemakers tanned leather and made footwear, their social status was low.  In the 1960s when local markets were […]

Skill vs Craft Tradition

June 24 2023 A variety of crafts through the world and over time complicate discussion. Craft surely involves a patron, but relationships vary widely. My work focuses on textile artisans in Kutch, and I distinguish between craft as skilled labor and craft traditions, which are created by hereditary artisans. “Craft tradition” refers to a comprehensive […]

Artisan Designer

June 17, 2023 In 2003 when I began developing a design school for artisans, people inevitably asked: “Oh, so you are teaching them craft?” No, all students are traditional artisans. “Oh, so you are giving them designs?” The 2 questions circumscribe perceived limitations of artisans; few people can comprehend that artisans can design. “Design” is […]


June 10, 2023 In the USA, I grew up revering Art. The distinction between art and craft was one of medium and functionality. A work on canvas hung on the wall was surely Art, but if it was cloth and useful it must be craft. Nor was art repeated. If there were many like pieces, […]

Making in Craft

June 3, 2023 How many times have you seen a maker depicted as hands without a head? A discussion of making in craft opens a Pandora’s box of issues that have been debated for centuries and yet still elicit strong and differing opinions. What differentiates art and craft? How do we perceive makers? Who can […]