America's Traditional Crafts by Robert Shaw

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America's Traditional Crafts

by Robert Shaw

-from Publishers Weekly
This astonishing survey of American crafts from the early 1800s to the present reveals that craft objects often achieve fine-art levels of beauty, sophistication and originality. The focus is on functional objects, including intricate works in wrought iron, shorebird decoys, furniture, musical instruments, pantry boxes, rugs, stoneware, scrimshaw, leatherwork, Shaker tools and baskets, Amish quilts and Native American moccasins, dresses and quillwork. In his engaging text, Shaw, curator at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont, provides valuable historical perspective by showing, for example, how craft co-operatives during the Depression revived and modified 19th-century rug-making techniques, or how African Americans and Native Americans adapted the European-American tradition of hand-carved walking sticks, adding features derived from their own iconographic customs. Anyone interested in crafts will want to own this extraordinary showcase of living traditions, illustrated with 310 color photographs."



-from Booklist
"Probably the information source on major U.S. crafts. Shelbourne Museum (Vermont) curator Shaw has compiled treasures of U.S. folk art, displayed them in a panoply of stunning color photographs, and surrounded them with a scholarly yet down-to-earth text, including providing an acquaintance with the provenance of each object. Here, we learn that redware should more appropriately be labeled earthenware, that scrimshaw was not just decorative scribblings on whalebone, and that the popular faux finishes of today actually began in the 1800s. Featured among the hundreds of photographs are cameos of individual crafters--an Illinois decoy and bird carver, a southern mother and daughter specializing in splint baskets, a New England native renowned for her quilts, for instance--bringing a sense of ownership and pride to these objects. From necessity to luxury, American crafts have evolved in an interesting way, and Shaw captures that history and spirit well. Glossary appended. "

 

-Barbara Jacobs

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