Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Importance of Handcraft

It used to be that every child learned some kind of handcraft at the knees of an elder.

Even as far back as two generations, this was the norm. When modernization took such a stronghold at the end of the World Wars, this interaction of teaching a handcraft seemed to disappear almost overnight. With that disappearance, I believe we also lost a valuable link to our ancestors and our common history. It wasn't until I met my husband that I learned just how valuable this passing of a handcraft really was. His grandfather had taught him basic woodcarving as a young boy of five. They started with simple fish decoys to use on the lakes of their family property. This simple gesture from a loving grandfather seeded my husband's passion for all things made of wood and endures to this day. Grandpa Ray has since passed many years ago, and was a man I never had the honor of meeting face to face. But when I see my husband in his woodshop revealing an object in a piece of wood, I know that Grandpa Ray is present. Now with two children of my own, I have been thinking about what handcrafts we will teach our children. My love of farm animals and textiles deemed that I should learn to knit, and teach my daughter Wren when she is ready. It is my sincere hope that she will someday pass along this skill to her children. Of all the gifts we give to our children, perhaps one of the most special is that which can be remembered by the movement of our hands.

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