Every Wise Woman

Real Food, Real Health, Real Birth

Radically Natural POV: Reviving Interest in the Vanishing Handcrafts

The radically natural life is not merely how we eat and what modalities we use for healing.  It encompasses how we think, how we learn, how we create, what we believe.  It is our worldview, our values, our practices, our pursuits...

Being radically natural includes embracing valuable, beautiful, wholesome "old ways" and traditions (bringing with them satisfying labors), and (as much as possible) rejecting modern entrapments, attitudes and lifestyles that lead to the damage of our bodies and dulling of our souls.

One of my family's passions is the art of craftsmanship.  Longtime art festival aficionados and passionate pursuers of the DIY life, we continually seek to make arts and craftmanship a part of our family's paradigm.  We have not yet acquired all the skills, but we enjoy learning about them.  Woodworking, block silk printing, quilting, boat building, lacemaking, bladesmithing, basket making, wool spinning, timberframing, saddlery, cloth weaving, butter/cheese making, tailoring, leather working, pottery, etc.  Artistic, old world, hand-crafted goods and labors...skills that are fading terrifyingly quickly in our modern, industrial, disposable, cheap-consumer-good, Walmart-world society.  Will we live to see a day where humans have lost these skills altogether?  Where we as a society have no ability to create high quality hand-made goods?  Where people simply don't care and won't understand the difference?  God forbid!

Some years ago, my husband discovered a simple but profound treatise touching on the topic, Matthew Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft.  Not long after that, we stumbled upon a documentary series shot in Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s, called Hands.  These priceless episodes showcase a variety of the (now fading) hand crafts that once proliferated Ireland...and much of the world.  Our family watches an episode or two every Friday evening.  We all look forward eagerly to our Friday night Hands sessions. Our children (ages 4 to 14) all enjoy the show, constantly expressing an eagerness to learn each skill or pursue each art presented (we parents echo the enthusiasm, though ours is slightly tempered by adult acknowledgment of certain limitations on time and resources).

Watching these videos, knowing that most of the crafts presented and the craftsmen and artists who offered them have most likely gone the way of the dinosaur, brings me to tears.  But I beam when I hear my children say, "Oh, I love this!  I want to be a (fill in the blank...potter, cooper, boat builder, linen weaver, silversmith...what have you) someday!!"  Perhaps they will.  I hope we all acquire at least passing proficiency in some of the many talents and practices exhibited.

Hands is a historical treasure and an aesthetic delight.  Capturing the beauty of the Emerald Isle and set to its traditional tunes, Hands' 14 discs highlight and explore a plethora of nearly lost handcrafts and practices, reminding us of the scope, beauty, intricacy and simplicity of the accomplishments of human hands.

[I make no money from recommending this series, I just love it and believe we all should find inspiration in the magnificence and excellence of human craftsmanship.]

EWWHerbals                                                                              "Every wise woman builds her house..."  Proverbs 14:1

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