All that glitters is not gold : craft jewellery and digital manufacturing

ATKINSON, Paul (2010). All that glitters is not gold : craft jewellery and digital manufacturing. In: GIMENO MARTINEZ, Javier and FLORE, Fredie, (eds.) Design and Craft : Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Design History & Design Studies. Brussels, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 454-457.

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Much of my recent work in leading the Post Industrial Manufacturing research group at Sheffield Hallam University has been about the boundaries between professional and amateur design and the impact of emerging manufacture technologies (Atkinson 2010) – a problematic area for the design profession per se, and perhaps even more so for craft.

In ‘Thinking Through Craft’, Glenn Adamson stated ‘When craft manifests itself as an expression of amateurism, it becomes genuinely troublesome.’ In part this is because ‘one of the hallmarks of amateur activity is a lack of critical distance from the object of desire’ where people operate purely within ‘their own worlds of reference.’ (Adamson, 2007:139) Referencing the sociologist Robert Stebbins, Adamson reminds us that ‘amateur pursuits, once initiated, inevitably tend to follow an arc of increasing professionalization’ and that ‘the upward pressure of amateurs is a primary means of propelling creative fields forward’. (Adamson 2007:141) For me, the question raised here relating to Adamson’s observations is how do we now distinguish between the professional craftsperson and the ‘hobbyists that nip at their heels’ when that skill or mastery over material and process is made available to all?

The fact is, the amateur is out there, and is not going away. Craft, and certainly craft jewellery is and will remain a target for amateur involvement due to its intrinsically simplistic (in technological terms) and personal nature. This involvement is not new, but when the desire for creating craft jewellery is limited by lack of the lay user’s access to specialised training, materials, and production processes, then such involvement might not be a concern. When online systems appear that allow users to adapt professionally designed or crafted objects that are later produced by specialist suppliers, some might become concerned. When technological systems enable users to not only design, but also produce professionally crafted objects themselves, it is possible that alarm bells will start ringing.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Page Range: 454-457
Depositing User: Paul Atkinson
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2012 10:55
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 06:17

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