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The Invention of Craft


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Table of Contents

The Invention of Craft Introduction Part One: Manipulation The Centre Holds The Carved and the Flat The Undisciplined Artisan Poor Plain and Paltry: The Decline of Carving The Cutting Edge The Hands of Others Part Two: Mystery The Age of the Reveal Porcelain: A Modern Arcanum Sleights of Hand An Elastic Age Explained Away: Craft and Cultural Improvement The Task of Re-Enchantment The New Arcanists Part Three: Mechanical All Things But A Self State of Nature Replication and the Industrial Artisan The Reproductive Continuum Analogue Practice In and Out of Touch Part Four: Memory Craft as Memory Work Dismantling Ruskin United and Industrious Affective Relations Stitches in Time Index

Promotional Information

In The Invention of Craft, leading scholar Glenn Adamson searches out the origins of modern craft, skillfully demonstrating how it was invented as industry's counterpart. Taking example from a wide range of disciplines, from wood-carving and iron-casting to fashion and architecture, Adamson investigates the origins of craft and its historical significance on contemporary design practice.

About the Author

Glenn Adamson is Head of Graduate Studies and Deputy Head of Research at the Victoria & Albert Museum. He is also author of The Craft Reader (Berg, 2009) and Thinking Through Craft (Berg, 2007).


[An] engaging, provocative book * Summer Books Guide 'books of the year', Financial Times *
According to recent lectures and articles... The Invention of Craft represents Adamson's farewell note to crafts, and if that is the case then it's a fascinating way to bow out... [The book] illustrates how craft has always been rooted in modernity and that it has long been capable of mutating to make itself relevant to contemporary technology. It's a message with resonance, and one that needs to be widely heard... there are moments here when you feel [Adamson] has the power to transform permanently the perception of craft. * Crafts Magazine *
Glenn Adamson, a curator at the V&A in London, who I think is the best writer on craft since Peter Dormer, is able to convince even a sceptic like me that craft is not only alive, but that it is vital. And interesting ... This book stands up beside anything on craft I have read so far. From the politics of labour to the intricacies of lacemaking, this is a superb book that covers a huge territory and is stuffed full of ideas and unexpected associations. If, like me, you think you're not really interested in craft, you may be surprised. -- Edwin Heathcote * Icon magazine *
Rich and fascinating book. -- Jeff Bearce, Woodworker and Independent Scholar, Berkeley, US * The Craft Journal *
Here, the author looks to demonstrate that craft is not a second-class or anti-modern discipline, but rather a skilled process that is crucial for contemporary practices across a wide range of disciplines, including sculpture, painting and contemporary art, fashion, design, architecture and the digitalised industrial fabrication of products... His arguments throughout are well supported by examples of inventions from numerous disciplines dated from the 18th century to the present... You might not imagine it possible to draw connections between the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress and a quilt made by anonymous prisoners at HMP Wandsworth in a discussion of craft, but Adamson, a knowledgeable scholar, does so with ease, while at the same time showing how contemporary practice can be informed by the study of modern craft in its period of invention.... An enjoyable [read], full of examples readers can relate to as they try to understand the meaning of craft in the world we live in. -- Nithikul Nimkulrat, Loughborough University * Times Higher Education Supplement *
Adamson again demonstrates he is a scholar whose ideas cannot be ignored; for readers eager to grapple with the identity of craft, add Invention to the required reading list. -- Perry A. Price * American Craft Magazine *
This is a very clever book. Not because it is highly erudite with a sophisticated, theoretically informed argument grounded in rigorous historical research - although it is all these things - but because of its underlying argument and approach: that craft is currently undergoing radical change and in order to truly understand this and envisage what might happen in the future we must first re-examine its past... An intellectual history of craft, this book provokes us into challenging craft's limitations; by helping us to look at its history with fresh eyes it helps us to imagine its future. As such, it makes an invaluable contribution to the ever-expanding, pluralistic field of craft and craft discourse. * Ceramic Review *
Glenn Adamson is a friend of craft, but in The Invention of Craft he has come to deconstruct the narrative and many of the beliefs ofboth the practice and the discussion of craft as it operates in the 21st century...His arguments are clever and natural but complex...But, that being said, he has made this book for arguing. Reading the last seven lines of the book, the reader sees not only that Glenn Adamson is a friend of craft but that he is doing everything possible to take us and the whole field further. -- Leopold J. Kowolik * Studio Magazine *
Once again, Glenn Adamson has proven adept at pinpointing the hot-button issues in modern craft. The Invention of Craft takes historical ideas about craft that have been canonized in craft scholarship and turns them on their head. His controversial assertions and excellent examples will have scholars and makers buzzing for years. -- Sandra Alfoldy, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design
Adamson presents an array of contextual arguments grounded in rigorous research, which allow the reader to draw their own comparisons as one delves further into the book... By shifting between different centuries and fast-tracking to the present day, Adamson carefully illustrates how craft is not only rooted in modernity but also how it has constantly manipulated itself to remain relevant to contemporary technology. -- Zara Arshad * Designers & Books: 10 Notable Design Books of 2013 *
Glen Adamson's The Invention of Craft is a thought-provoking and challenging book which builds on his earlier monograph Thinking Through Craft ... I have no doubt that this book will be very influential in our understanding of craft. -- Jim Cheshire * The Journal of William Morris Studies *

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