Through the generations, every culture has made crafts that are both functional and beautiful. Traditional crafts can be as simple as a basket or as complicated as fine woven silk. Whether it is a rug, a knitted sweater, an iron hinge, or a hunting decoy, people often invest time and effort, beyond what is needed for basic necessity, to produce crafts that are pleasing to the eye. Most traditional craftsmen set high standards for craftsmanship. Often, the definition of beautiful is something that is "well made and works well."
Hooked rug by Anne Winterling
Would you like to learn more about traditional crafts in New Hampshire?
Home & Community CraftsAsh Basketmaking Traditional Textiles for the Home Rug Hooking Crafts of Worship & Celebration
Outdoor & Recreational CraftsFly Tying Dog Sledding & Dog Sled Making
What is special about traditional crafts?
Ash & sweet grass baskets by Jeanne Brink
Most traditional crafts developed before the industrial age, which brought the manufacture of interchangeble parts for manchinery and household appliances - and before the invention of electricity, plastics and polyesters.
In the pre-industrial age, craftsmen used materials found in nature like wood, cotton, wool, natural dyes, stone, etc., to make their crafts - and they used hand- or water-powered tools to make them.
Some craftsmen became specialists in a particular craft and well respected by the community as master artisans. Some crafts were made by everyday people as a matter of survival. This was especially true on farms and rural towns were people needed to be sef-sufficient.
Today, traditional craftsmen have bigger challenges preserving their skills because they need to produce their crafts in a modern econcomy. Because most traditional crafts are very labor-intensive, few people earn a living at making their traditional craft.
In spite of the challenges, there are many craftspeople who keep traditional crafts alive. They preserve knowledge of how to survive without technology and how to work with nature to obtain and process their materials. Many maintain very high standards of craftsmanship and preserve skills important to our cultural heritage.
Snowshoes by Treflee Bolduc
Craft Guilds & the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen
Crafts of Historic Restoration
Carved decoys by Fred Dolan
Fine Furniture Making
Flax & Linen
Fly Rod Making
Gardening & Dried Flowers
Shaker Crafts in New Hampshire
Shaker Oval Boxes
Snow Shoe Making
Traditional Chair Making
Wooden Canoe Building
Grant opportunities to support one-to-one instruction between a master traditional artist & an apprentice are available through the NH State Council on the Arts. Click here for information on Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grants.
All: Lynn Martin Graton