Handicrafts are utilitarian items created with one’s hands or with simple tools. Handicrafts can include anything from clothing to lanterns to jewelry to knives. Objects can vary greatly upon cultures and even more greatly among artisans. Handicrafts are intended to be used in everyday life, acting as much more than just mere decoration.
Every ancient civilization produced handicrafts.
In China, for example, an 18,000-year-old sewing needle made of bone was discovered in 1933. China is still home to a thriving industry of handicrafts, including jade, ceramics, and textiles.
Areas of India are renowned for their silverwork, purses, and pottery. Historically, India produced some of the most exquisite weavings wood working.
Umbrella making is also considered a handicraft. The earliest umbrellas were fashioned from bark and rubber and made Bo Sang, Thailand famous. Modern-day umbrellas made with machines, however, are not handicrafts.
French handicrafts once included cosmetics and clothing, but much of these are now outsourced to lesser-developed countries and use industry to produce the goods.
Recently, South African mothers involved with the Mothers to Mothers-to-be program began making beaded handicrafts to make extra income. The organization trains low-income, HIV-positive mothers in crafts that they can later market and sell.
Quilts are often deemed an American handicraft, but quilting history goes back to the ancient Egyptians and quilting fashions can be traced to nearly all times and all over the world, including the European Renaissance. American quilting, though, was popularized upon the arrival of affordable textiles in the early and mid-1800s and remains popular worldwide.