Sunday, July 28, 2019

With These Hands

With These Hands is a book full of short spotlight interviews and bios of traditional crafters and artists from Canada. Released 30th June 2019 from Nimbus publishing, it's 224 pages and available in paperback format.

There is as much contemplation on philosophy and the history of 'plain' crafts and tools as there is biography in this volume and much of what the author says really resonated with me. In the intro, he touches on the differences between art and craft (and trades) and the way that handcrafted tools and objects define and enhance our lives. The introduction alone is full of sources for further reading and I found that the author and I share more than a few of the same watershed books in our lives, such as the Whole Earth Catalog and Robert Pirsig's phenomenal Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

The book's biographical entries are grouped roughly by category: naturecrafts, wood, folk art, textiles, metal/glass/leather, and sporting crafts. There are a number of featured artists and objects from the First Nations peoples and the author treats all of the crafters with dignity and respect.

Most of the entries are 1-3 pages with a photograph of the subject. It isn't lavishly photographed, but there's a retro vibe with black and white photos which suits the book very well.

The bibliography and included  resource links might well be the best and most comprehensive I've come across. There is an astounding amount of info for further reading and research included here.

This is a good overview of traditional crafts, many of which are being lost as the knowledge dies with their practitioners. It is not a tutorial book and there aren't any included instructions.

5 stars. Beautiful and important work.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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