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The Arts

10 Fascinating Artisan Crafts

Nic Swaner . . . Comments

Artisan Craft is the creation of an item made to serve one or more practical functions and be influential as an artistic work. However, some of the entries on this list serve no practical purpose other than artistic merit and aesthetics, but they are all the more welcomed as they borrow from similar skill sets. Some very well-known artisan crafts have been omitted, such as pottery and quilting, as the focus of this list is on the more intriguing and lesser-known crafts.



280Px-Azulejos Parque Eduardo Vii-2

Azulejo is a form of Portuguese or Spanish painted, tin-glazed, ceramic tile work. Typically, azulejos can be found on the interior and exterior of churches, palaces, ordinary houses and even train stations or subway stations. They constitute a major aspect of Portuguese architecture as they are applied on walls, floors and even ceilings. They were not only used as an ornamental art form, but also had a specific functional capacity like temperature control at homes. Many azulejos chronicle major historical and cultural aspects of Portuguese history.


Lace Making

Royal Lace Detail

Lace is an openwork fabric, noticeable for the patterned open holes in the work. The holes can be formed via removal of threads or cloth from previously woven fabric, but more often open spaces are created as part of the lace fabric. The craft of lace-making is ancient, though true lace and widespread use of it did not appear until the late 15th century. A true lace is created when a thread is looped, twisted or braided to other threads independently from a backing fabric. Linen, silk, and even silver and gold threads were used originally while most lace now is made with cotton thread.



Al Insan E  By T4M3R

Calligraphy is defined as the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner. Modern calligraphy ranges from functional hand-lettered inscriptions and designs to fine-art pieces where the abstract expression of the handwritten mark may or may not compromise the legibility of the letters. Traditional calligraphy tools include varying types of ink, nib-tipped pens, calligraphic brushes, desk pads and paper weights.




Pyrography, also known as pokerwork or wood burning, is the art of decorating wood or other materials with burn-marks resulting from the controlled application of a heated object such as a poker. As photography means “writing with light,” pyrography means “writing with fire” in Greek. It can be practiced using specialized modern pyrography tools, or using a metal implement heated in a fire, or even sunlight concentrated with a magnifying lens. Varying the type of tip used, the temperature, or the way the iron is applied to the material all create different effects. After the design is burned in, wooden objects are often colored. Light-colored hardwoods such as sycamore, basswood, beech and birch are most commonly used.




Clockmaking is the craft of manufacturing a clock; the trade requires fine motor coordination as clockmakers must frequently work on devices with small gears and fine machinery. Originally, clockmakers were master craftsmen who designed and built clocks by hand. Since modern clockmakers are required to repair antique, handmade or one-of-a-kind clocks for which parts are not available, they must have some of the design and fabrication abilities of the original craftsmen. A qualified clockmaker can typically design and make a missing piece for a clock without access to the original component. Clockmakers generally do not work on watches; the skills and tools required are different enough that watchmaking is a separate field, handled by another specialist: the watchmaker.



Avatar  0 By Night Everclear-D46Tck4

Knifemaking is the process of manufacturing a knife by one or any combination of processes: stock removal, forging to shape, welded lamination or investment cast. Typical metals used come from the carbon steel, tool, or stainless steel families. Primitive knives have been made from bronze, copper, brass, iron, obsidian, and flint. Different steels are suited to different applications. There is a trade off between hardness, toughness, edge retention, corrosion resistance, and achievable sharpness between metals.



Flying Katydid

Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding in which pieces of paper, usually square in shape and uncut, are folded into objects such as birds and animals. It is an ancient art that dates back to 538 A.D., but has grown over the centuries from a craft used to make decorations for ceremonial occasions to an art form practiced by people of all ages and all nationalities. The best known origami model is probably the Japanese paper crane. The principles of origami are also used in packaging and in engineering structures.


Lapidary Art


Lapidary is the art of cutting and polishing stone. Lapidary has its roots in prehistory, as early as humans began fashioning tools and weapons from stone. Over time, these techniques were also used for items of personal adornment. Stone carving evolved as an art in many cultures throughout the world. During the 1950s, lapidary became a popular hobby in the United States. Hobbyists enjoyed tumbling, cutting and polishing gemstones and mounting them in prefabricated jewelry settings or in metalwork of their own creation. There are three types of stonework: tumbling, cabochon cutting, and faceting.




Quilling, also known as paper filigree, is an art form that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped, and glued together to create decorative designs. The name originates from winding the paper around a quill to create a basic coil shape. The paper is glued at the tip and the coiled shapes are arranged to form flowers, leaves, and various ornamental patterns similar to ironwork. During the Renaissance, French and Italian nuns and monks used quilling to decorate book covers and religious items. The paper most commonly used was strips of paper trimmed from the gilded edges of books. These gilded paper strips were then rolled to create the quilled shapes.




Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement, emphasizing other areas of the plant besides the blooms such as the stems and leaves and drawing importance to the employment of minimalism in the art form. Unlike a bouquet, this floral arrangement is not a collection of multicolored blooms. Ikebana is a disciplined art form in which nature and humanity are brought together. Though ikebana is a creative expression, it has certain rules governing its form. The main rule is that all the elements used in construction must be organic, be they branches, leaves, grasses, or flowers. The artist’s intention behind each arrangement is shown through a piece’s color combinations, natural shapes, graceful lines, and the usually implied meaning of the arrangement. The structure of a Japanese flower arrangement is based on a scalene triangle delineated by three main points, usually twigs, considered in some schools to symbolize heaven, earth, and man and in others sun, moon, love & earth. The container is also a key element of the composition, and various styles of pottery may be used in their construction.

  • David Hopkins

    Neat list and quite fascinating artworks. My sister is going into ceramics.

    • boring_list


      • Otter

        Thank u for that insightful comment that you left.

  • Neil

    Calligraphy??? must be Chinese Character for. e.g

  • Alex

    what a wonderful and magnificent list :))
    I just love Art!

  • jer-bear

    Interesting list. Would tattooing be considered artisan?

    • combatsmurf

      Depends who you’re talking to I suppose… But most ‘artisans’ such as the Moise, Polenesians and Tahitians, will tattoo themselves to purposefully differ from ‘non-artisans’ (majority of the time on the face). IMHO… I’d say it can be, yeah.

  • Amrendra

    Rice painting and miniature painting from Rajasthan.

    • mythomaniac

      I have a grain of rice with my name on it(inside a tiny jar). There hands must be so steady!

      • gabi319

        They used to have those booths at the mall that would guarantee they can fit any name on a single grain of rice. I kind of wanted to accept their challenge since my full first name is twelve letters long. If they were talking first, middle and last name, that’s a combined 23 letters. I would’ve liked to see them legibly squeeze all of that on a grain of rice.

        • Amrendra

          My full name ends up having 27 letters. HAHAHAHAHA.

          • Julius

            60 letters. Beat you there :-D

  • mck

    Nice list and amazing examples of the crafts.

    Paper boat might be the most popular origami model.

    • FlatEric

      Or a paper airplane.

    • remon

      or paper plate

      • crazyloon

        or just paper ;D

  • Christine Vrey

    I enjoyed this list!! I love art, and grew up with two artists in the house – My mother does Stained glass and my father PYROGRAPHY!! Glad to see it on the list, but I have to say, his is way better than the example given… But that could also just be because he has been mastering his art for 40 years, and he found leather to burn and hold the immages much better than wood…. Check it out!!!

    • gabi319

      clicked the link. Your father’s very talented!

    • Simplifried

      Christine, I love your dad’s story. I was born four years before and grew up in a rural surrounding in the Western part of the USA. My brothers and I were always in the fields and wooods that were near our home. Like him we got around by bicycle and every creek,, gully, hilltop, or field was something to explore. I never drew or painted like your dad. What a terrific talent he has. Please pass on my best regards.

      • Christine Vrey

        That sounds like you had a great childhood! He always tells me storys about when he was young, wondering around the desert and exploring. His life facinates me, especially since he came from such a humble background, and now he is so wealthy (not just money wise, but in family, friends, love and faith). I remember him telling me about a time when my grandfather baught a banana (which was expensive back then, especially since they aren’t grown here), and shared it between the 9 children. They each just got a bite, but he made himself a promise that one day he will have enough money to buy bananas everyday… Now he doesnt even like them =) I will pass on your regards, and thank you very much for your share!

        • Amrendra

          WOW WOW WOW. Christine that is one of the most uniquely beautiful pieces of art I have seen!!!

    • Baldguy

      Some truly amazing stuff.

    • mom424

      Beautiful, just beautiful. Awesome Dad.

    • psychosurfer

      I can’t open the link :(

    • bigski

      beautiful artwork,your dad seems like a real cool guy…..

    • Kopmel

      Your father’s work is beautiful x x x

    • KaZuHiRo

      Christine, you have one amazing Dad! Pass my regards to him. I’m from Osaka, Japan and had been exposed to Ikebana and Origami. There’s a whole lotta art-form here including stone balancing, kimono wearing and even tea ceremony.

      • KaZ, I do love origami. I have played with it for years and finally have vowed to make my 1000 cranes! Wish me luck!!!

      • Christine Vrey

        I showed my, very computer illiterate, dad this thread. He loved it and wanted to thank everyone for the support and praise… =D

        • Lyndsay

          How wonderful! Christine, you can add me as a fan of your dad’s work. It’s a marvellous testament to the hand made crafts still going all over the world. Beautiful website too, and he seems to have a lovely way of explaining what he does. I hope he’s passing the skills on – it would be a terrible shame to lose out on a talent like that!

  • gabi319

    Nice list! I do admire those who can do these things. I’ve lucked out and had the opportunity to try my hand at a majority of these but I don’t have the patience to create anything near as good as what I’ve seen others do.

    I guess glass-blowing is considered too “well-known” a craft to make the list? That’s an amazing skill I’d love to try if I can find a way to learn.

    • mythomaniac

      Go to Venice?

      • gabi319

        haha, I wish. with the hours I keep at work right now, I’d be lucky if I find the time to take the half hour metro into Washington DC for an afternoon visit. A few days (or weeks…..or months) in Venice would be lovely but unrealistic.

        I thought I saw a glass studio a few miles down from a pottery studio I used to work at. I haven’t seen it during my drive to work in the last year or so I guess it closed down. …and the pottery studio I used to work at closed down as well not too long ago. It’s been a rough time for art studios.

        • There is a glass-blower in the next village to mine. His studio is often open to the public and I love to go and watch him create his beautiful vases, bowls, and other beautiful things.

    • bigski

      me mother,sister and daughter are very artistic as far as drawing…. stick people is my only claim to fame.

  • fraterhater

    Nice list, I’m happy any time there is an art list.

  • combatsmurf

    brilliant list for a monday morning! gets the preverbials flowing… now even though they are all great, quilling is something i have to try for sure! again, fab list :D

  • Simplifried

    Great list.. I think we could come up with several more, enough too fill another list. Lacquer, stone carving, beadwork, jewelry, wood carving, rug weaving, pottery, glass, so many mediums too choose from and likely ten distinct examples for each. I love this list as a start!

  • Will Trame

    Being that I love art, this is an excellent list. An honorable mention goes out to glass blowing.

  • Cool list today

  • oouchan

    Some people are extremely talented, judging by the pictures from this list. The stone and wood work is amazing. For some reason, I always thought Ikebana was silly and not really art….until I saw someone actually do it. Then it change my perception of flower arranging. It was quite beautiful.

    Nice list.

  • mom424

    Cool list this morning. I’m always jealous of people with skill and patience. It takes both. For instance, I was taught how to make lace – it’s called tatting – with teeny weeny hooks and shiny thread. Made doilies and back of the couch runners before I had kids – and nothing since. The patience required, not only to make them, but to block them and shape them, is ridiculous.

    It’s not mentioned, but I’d like to learn about hammering tin; used to be used fairly frequently in place of glass in cabinets etc. I’m not sure what it’s called but I wouldn’t mind a ceiling made of it.

    Nice offering – Thanks.

    PS; going to keep an eye out for a class in Ikebana – I love the spare awesomeness of it.

    • psychosurfer

      It would be awesome to see all listversers’ incursions into art, I’m sure there is a lot of talented and creative people around here.
      My country is among the richest regarding artisan crafts, but if I had to choose only one, I would definitely go with Huichol art, check out this vid:

      • mom424

        So beautiful. Interesting how most North American aboriginal art has similar shapes/themes/colors. You’d think that maybe they share a common origin or something.

        ps: sorry I was so late replying – once in a great while I actually go to work. As rarely as possible. :)

        • psychosurfer

          Hi mom, I believe it has to do with the fact that these cultures have a strong influence of their cosmogony in the practice of sacred rituals which include the use of entheogens such as mescaline or psilocybe. Along with the wisdom and communion this people experience from those substances, they also induce trances which include visions in the form of symmetrical and kaleidoscopic paterns. Huicholes name their sacred cactae Hikuri, they even treat it as a living being, and it is depicted all over their artwork along with images of deer, corn or even the sun, to whom they pay utmost devotion.
          We surely can learn a lot from them and their unity with nature.

          Well, I hope you find that interesting, thanks for replying.
          Back to work for me too :)

  • vanowensbody

    Great list

  • StinkyWizzleteats

    I once carved a dog turd into a figurine of Jennier Aniston…you could barely tell them apart!

  • Bullamakanka

    My wife and I got involved in gourd craft back in 2002 and even published a magazine about it for a short time. Hard-shelled gourds (part of the cucurbit family of plants) are typically not edible, but their hard exterior serves as a great format for all sorts of artistic and creative outlets … Sculpture, pyrography, bead inlay, dyeing and painting, musical instruments, etc. Some of the pyrography in gourds from South America (especially Chile and Peru) is exquisite, mostly done with a heated nail. There are farms throughout the US that grow gourds; the one near Fallbrook, CA, produces over 100,000 a year… all for crafting. Gourds originally started out as utility vessels for holding liquids etc before ceramic/clay pottery came about, so it’s been around for a very long time. Gourd Crafting is still pretty big especially here in the US. Look it up, there could be a Gourd Festival happening near you.

    • bigski

      they make excellent bird houses too…

  • Italia

    Human patience and talent never ceases to amaze me, such beautiful things can come from our hands. Lovely list, lovely way to start the week. However, as an Italian who visits Venice every holiday, I must protest the lack of glass blowing! And whittling, too, is also incredibly impressive, oh and engraving, and glass etching and beading and…come to think of it I think another list is in order!

    • Glass-blowing is awe-inspiring.

  • Schiesl

    My uncle is a clockmaker, and to watch him work is truly amazing. The skill, precision, and the patience one has to have is immeasurable.

  • undaunted warrior 1

    Patience, a steady hand and lots of time on your side you can create some awsome works of art.

    Thanks Nic.

  • Armadillo

    In a museum once I saw sculptures made of bee wings. I wonder if it has a name.

    • fendabenda

      Alae sculptura apis? Just made it up… :D

      • hahahahaha! That’s a great new phrase. I’m going to find a way to use it :)

  • Lisa Marie

    I love the Quilling and Azulejo and the Ikebana. The Pyrography is interesting!

  • JHZ

    We made knives in school. Quite basic ones from a piece of steel, tempered and sharpened, and fitted into a wooden handle.

    Also, one guy made a whole claymore, which took him about two years to make. It was quite rugged, but cut into smaller trees nicely.

  • NeesahD22

    Wwwwoooo. That stuff is so beautiful. I feel bad calling it stuff. Lol
    Super neato extremeo list!!

  • daniel

    I think swordsmithing should’ve been at the least a notable omission, but otherwise, great list!

  • FMH

    What about dentistry? :) A shame that all people want regular looking crowns and dentures, I got so many ideas….

  • I like photos 1-3.The dragonfly doesn’t look like real origami.

    • Nic S

      That origami model is actually a katydid folded with thin-as-tissue paper

  • Delightful!

    I practice Calligraphy and origami, but had never heard of Quilling. I’m going to learn more about it and give it a go. It looks interesting.

  • Neogami Origami Jewellery

    Great list! Origami is my fave being an origami artist myself! ;D

  • trfan01

    I did a #2 (creating art from little paper tubes) once when I was in grade school for art class. I completely forgot about it until I was going through old school work to see what to toss out (unfortunately this was a casualty because the paper the tubes were connected to and the glue holding them had deteriorated badly over 25 years). I had no idea that it was an art form.

    My parents have a couple of plates on their walls at home with the #10 kind of artwork, too.

  • Interesting list- would love to get a piece of number 7, and maybe number 5, too.

  • Adrian G.

    its a really nice list but…you could probably use Huichol art

  • sara

    #2 is gorgeous but i would soooo not have the patience

  • ro_annes

    i was hoping to see Batik in the list…

  • tim

    interesting list. i would liked to have seen (forgive my ignorance i’m not sure what it is called) the art form that i’ve seen buddhists perform where they make art out of colored sand.

  • vermilionskin

    Calligraphy can be done using any languages and letters, Chinese, English, Arabic and so on. :)

  • vermilionskin

    Beautiful list! <3

  • Mena

    Great list! I thought of Scrimshaw too. It’s a little similar to Pyrography…

  • Pedro

    Azulejos are a Portuguese art form. Just to make it clear.
    Those shown on the image are a special kind, all the painting is in blue tones but all the painting is incredibly perceptable. Normally are painted angels, people, buildings, boats, the sea, etc. The scenes are about wars, past street’s life, religion, and other historical stuff.
    Azul, the begining of the word Azulejo, means blue.
    They are magnificent and deserve to be seen.

  • Borissmith

    This is very good List for fascinating Craft.

  • Fluids
  • Fiona

    Thanks for sharing the above info. I find that origami is the most fascinating craft above.

    keep up the good work. :)