As I follow my heart more deeply into this creative journey I’ve set out on, I’ve started to wonder about the difference between Art and Craft. I named this website ‘1000 Cranes Craft and Decor’ for a couple of reasons. One was simply the alliteration of the words Crane and Craft . . . it sounded good. But the other reason is that I have always thought of myself as a ‘crafter,’ not as an ‘artist.’ It’s self-effacing and something I think (without doing any research at all) that women have always done — minimized the things we create out of necessity or in our spare time — as craft with a small ‘c’ rather than as ‘Art’ with a big ‘A.’
But my husband, with his loving eyes, always tells me I’m an artist. When I went to the Haven Conference last year and tried to explain to someone, an experienced decor blogger, what I was doing with my cranes, she looked at me and said “oh, you’re an artist.”
So I’ve been wondering if I am an artist? What is that boundary between craft and art? It’s not necessarily level of skill or amount of time spent on a piece. The cut and fold book art of a menorah, pictured above, is something I’d call craft. It took patience. It took time. It took practice. But it’s from a pattern that someone else created. And in the end, my product looks just like the picture that came with the pattern when I downloaded it. Except that I painted the cover gold.
But my canvas of 1000 cranes, made out of sanitary pad paper? That might approach Art . . . I did get good at folding cranes because I folded 1000 of them. And it did take me a year to finish. But the end product is something that no one else would be able to easily replicate. It’s a thought, an idea, a story, that I can’t provide a pattern for.
I just finished reading the book, The Gown, by Jennifer Robison. The book is a description of the creation of Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown in 1947 from the perspective of the embroidery artists who decorated the dress. One, in the end, is a craftsman and the other is an artist. Ann, the protagonist and the craftsman says, “What we do takes a lot of skill, and a lot of practice, but nearly anyone can figure it out with some training. This, though . . . this is different. This is the sort of thing people will line up to see, and when they do it will change the way they see the world, and when they go away they won’t forget it.”
Maybe that definition is too grand. Or perhaps I’m still too self-effacing. I don’t think that a canvas of 1000 cranes will change the way someone sees the world. But perhaps there is not a distinct boundary between craft and art. Maybe the boundary is actually a transition — ‘ombre’ as my husband and I like to tease each other; a gradual blend of one color to another and each color in between is no less special and beautiful.