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Craft Traditions

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."

Would you like to learn more about traditional crafts in New Hampshire?

hooked rug featuring cows

Hooked rug by Anne Winterling

Home & Community Crafts

Outdoor & Recreational Crafts

Occupational Crafts

variety of baskets

Ash & sweet grass baskets
by Jeanne Brink

What is special about traditional crafts?

Most traditional crafts developed before the industrial age, which brought the manufacture of interchangeable parts for machinery 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 self-sufficient.

Today, traditional craftsmen have bigger challenges preserving their skills because they need to produce their crafts in a modern economy. Because most traditional crafts are very labor-intensive, few people earn a living at making their traditional craft.

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.

Photo credit: Lynn Martin Graton

New Hampshire State Council on the Arts
19 Pillsbury Street - 1st Floor, Concord, NH 03301