Craftspeople or craft practitioners design, make and repair objects that have both functional and artistic qualities, working in wood, metal, glass, leather, ceramics, textiles and other materials.
Craftspeople design the style and shape of objects. They use and manipulate materials to make objects according to the design. They finish off objects to enhance their artistic and/or practical qualities. Some craftspeople are asked to repair damaged or defective craft objects.
Craftspeople may specialise in one or more of the following:
Fibre Textile Workers, who work with weaving, felting, embroidery, stitching, quilting, dyeing, printing and garment design to create articles of clothing, finishings and decorative items. They may also do lace making, tapestry, collage, basketry, crochet, macramé, rug making, knotting, bookbinding and fabric painting.
Glass Workers work with hot glass (glassblowing and casting), warm glass (fusing and slumping) or cold glass (stained glass and lead lighting) to produce a variety of glassware and decorative items.
Leather Workers design, make and decorate shoes, bags, soft furnishings and gloves.
Metal and Jewellery Workers work with copper, brass, nickel, pewter, gold, silver and other metals to create jewellery and utensils such as enamelware and cutlery. They may choose to weld, patinate, cast, beat, construct and manipulate materials to suit the design.
Potters / Ceramicists mould clay into functional items such as mugs, bowls and tableware or conceptual (idea-based) works by wheel throwing, moulding or hand building. They then mix glazing materials to decorate, using various techniques, and apply the glaze. They put the finished or decorated pieces into kilns for firing and may decorate the pottery for artistic effect.
Wood Workers may choose to carve, lathe turn, laminate, inlay, construct and sculpt wood to produce items such as sculptures, decorative wall panels, furniture, picture frames, jewellery boxes and eating utensils.
Most craftspeople are involved in small business operations and often rely on exhibition sales and commissions to sell their work. Exhibitions and major commissions provide opportunities to become well known and therefore increase business prospects. Work is sold wholesale to shops, galleries and department stores or directly from the studio. Only a few craftspeople are employed full-time in their craft. Often other career opportunities develop in craft education, administration, curating, museum and gallery conservation or community artwork.
There are no formal educational requirements to become a craftsperson. However, entry to this occupation may be improved if you have qualifications.
Degree: BA (Fine Arts) - RU, UJ, US, UFS, NMMU, NWU, UCT, UFH, UP, WSU, Wits.
Diploma: N.Dip: Fine Arts and other various diplomas - CUT, DUT, TUT and VUT
Certificate: Various - art colleges, studios and some TVET colleges.
Examples of specific courses:
Textile Design - DUT, TUT. Jewellery Design - TUT, UJ, DUT, CUT, CPUT, Ceramic Design - UJ, NMMU, CUT, Port Elizabeth TVET, False Bay College, CCT and others.
Some craftspeople are self-taught and often find it beneficial to work under the guidance of an established craftsperson.
Training which may be relevant to your specialised craft is available at certificate (mostly from technical and art colleges), diploma (mostly from Universities of Technology) and degree (university) levels. In some cases, applicants are required to attend an interview and submit a portfolio of work.
Craft Council of South Africa