Gustav Stickley (ed.) / The craftsman
Simkhovitch, Mary K.
Handicrafts in the city--what their commercial significance is under metropolitan conditions, pp. 363-365
HANDICRAFTS IN THE CITY-WHAT THEIR COMMERCIAL SIGNIFICANCE IS UNDER METROPOLITAN CONDITIONS: BY MARY K. SIMKHOVITCH revival of handicrafts in America has taken place gely in the country where rent is nominal, and where the most part the crafts have been supplementary other occupations. It is a question whether the de- opment of the arts and crafts is suitable to the con- uiiui ui - 4ii ii- TV Va~ iuy 11aiw~ Ii a 1 - UlLI11i Vl CI 111 a gt , lil UU[Y. aL qV Ft;' lU O l . ).11- ciples can be laid down they may prove timely. For the enthusiasm the word handicraft arouses is prone to be most indiscriminate, and the public will readily say "how interesting" or "how lovely" without re- gard to the financial success of the undertaking, the wages of the worker, or the permanent value of crafts training. What the nature of the problem is may be indicated by haphazard reference to any craft. Take bookbinding. Bookbinding pays under two conditions, when there is division of labor, when in fact it is no longer a handicraft (i. e., the finished product of one hand-worker) but a trade; or when, being the product of the hand-worker, it is so uniquely interesting or beautiful that it can command a monopoly price. Here we have the key to one guiding principle. Anything that is unique can command a unique price, and in so far as any craft ex- hibits a very superior quality of workmanship that craft is a financial success. This is just as true in the city as in the country. If unusually beautiful metal work, pottery, lace, embroidery, woodwork, etc., can be produced it will command the unusual price and is economically justifiable. Superior quality in crafts work depends upon two things: design and execution. And although the handicrafts extremist insists upon designer and worker being one and the same person, there seems to be no reason why in many of the handicrafts the two functions should not be separated, though the worker must be able to appreciate good design and the designer ought to know good work when he sees it. Most of the crafts have proved inferior in one or other of these direc- tions. And it is clear that work of a monopoly value, good in design and superior in execution, will necessarily be extremely limited in extent. 363
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