Is it ART or is it CRAFT?

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    I presented this to a jewelry forum that I belong to, but would like to hear from others who aren’t ‘in the choir’ so to speak…


    My work in glass is typically on a very small scale.  (You can check out my work at www ringtailedtooters com, if you are curious, and make up your own mind). I don’t just fuse 2-3 layers together and slap a bail on it.  I put a lot of thought, effort, planning and time into each piece. Anyway, I’ve always considered myself an ‘artist’, but now I wonder….


    While considering upcoming juried competitions, I realized that there were some that I couldn’t even apply for – because they considered any type of jewelry as ‘craft’. The idea that I couldn’t apply got me thinking, “Well, why the heck not?”


    Webster defined art as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.” Okaaaayy… I needed to break it down a little more… Aesthetics = “appreciative of, responsive to, or zealous about the beautiful; also: responsive to or appreciative of what is pleasurable to the senses.”


    So, can I paraphrase the definition of art as, ‘the conscious use of skill and creative imagination, especially in the production of “beautiful” objects?


    The definition of craft was defined as: 1: skill in planning, making, or executing. 2 a: an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill.


    Huh? Can you see why my waters are muddied? If ‘craft’ is an occupation for which you need artistic skill, why is it not considered ‘art’ as well?  Am I missing something?


    Ok, so what do YOU think…is glass jewelry ART or is it CRAFT??



    www ringtailedtooters com



    Art can (and often does) exist in craft.

    Craft can (and usually does) exist within art.

    It isn’t an either/or question – they are two different things.

    The idea that jewelry cannot be art is arbitrary and ignorant.

    Helios Kiln Glass Studio



    I totally agree with Paul, who has said it best.  But to me, most jewelry seems to exist for the purpose of being a piece of jewelry while it’s easier for me to see a larger piece of glass, designed to test the possibiities of the medium and the imagination of the artist, as “art”.  But then I would also have to agree that size should not be the determining factor. ??
    However, if you look at Paul’s work or that of Steve Immerman, I don’t think there’s any confusing that as “craft”.  Perhaps a better question is why we connote different status to each category, when shouldn’t ‘craft’ just be a subcategory of ‘art’ ? 

    Windows listen attentively for the sound of broken glass.


     sorry, I got distracted for a minute and accidently posted twice…I tried to run and

    hide but to no avail. :)


    I think that it depends on the style…

    I know that my earlier pieces of jewelry now seem simple and gaudy…but as I’ve learned more techniques (thanks, Helios!!) I now believe it to be ART!

    : )  Kat


    Does anyone else around here find the “art vs. craft” debate elitist and silly?  The two can, and often do, intertwine.  I am unimpressed by artists whose exhibits and/or installations are only comprehensible to other artists.  I once heard a professor say that “art has to be nonfunctional.”  What a silly and restrictive idea!


    The line between art and craft is arbitrary and ill-defined. Alexander Calder made the most unwearable pieces of jewelry that are considered as artistic as his large-scale mobiles and sculptures. Ansel Adams makes a photo of a mountain and it is art; Joe Schmoe does it and it is a snapshot.

    Where to draw the line? There is craft in creating the pieces. When that craft takes on a different quality,  when it transcends the materials to make an original statement or expresses something in an enduring way, it is art. Unfortunately, it may be that some art glass jewelry of today will need time in order to be considered art. Some primitive quilts of the past– born out of necessity at the time– are considered art today.  To limit the definition of art to a few genres of artistic expression shows a definite lack of creative thinking.

    In trying to eliminate the cookie-cutter jewelry, the judges are damning all jewelry. But that’s not the case with all juried shows; the more enlightened and intelligently-managed shows will include jewelry arts.

    Pam B

    Pam B

    Guess we all fall into the category of not being considered artists.  I hate being juried into shows and  having to check the “craft” box on the applications.  Although glass blowers seem to be treated with more regard, glass fusers with a bit more interest, Jurors really thumb their noses at stained glass artists.  I began glass fusing to get more interest from the jurors although it worked, it was dumb. Now I just do it for the love of glass and IF I get a prize it is the icing on the cake.

    My favorite quote is:

    “A man who uses his hands is a workman.

    A man who uses his hands and his head is a craftsman

    A man who uses his hands, his head and his heart is an artist.”

    So I don’t care anymore.  I know in my heart I am an artist and my glass art takes as much or more skill, thought, and creativity than the artists who slaps some paint on a canvas.


    PS.  I am on the jury for one of the largest Fine Art  festivals in Florida (350 exhibiting  artists)  To keep the show diverse we had to cap the number of jewelers accepted.  More than 1/2 of the applicants were jewelers. With a cap of 50 jewelers (which was still too many) only the most creative jewelers with the best presentations were accepted.  To put that in perspective, over 100 jewelers had to be rejected.,  There is a lot of competition out there.


    Pam B

    Pam B

    Wendy, I tried to view you jewelry but could not get into your site and nothing is listed on ebay either.  Is there another way?



    Oops!  I forgot to update my info… new website address is

    Thanks for reminding me!


    Many moons ago, in 1987, I was told by a ‘real’ artist that what I represented was all of the ‘housewives’ who wanted to make a buck making crafty crap.  This was after I recieved a Best of Show in Art at a regional Art Fair in Central IL.  At that time,  I was in the middle of a life journey, researching and teaching myself Art forms all the while working as a Hospice nurse, Mother, and rehabilitating old houses while we lived in them.

    The work I displayed was life casts in low fire clay bodies, enhanced with found objects. I had no preconcieved notions of what was considered Art & what was Craft. I began to survey every Artist I talked with about this. Along the way, I met more ‘Real Artists who worked from their heart/life/soul/personal experiences who had not a bit of formal Art education who’s Art was more meaningful than many ‘Trained Artists’.

    Also, many of these same people say to create with the intention of selling is not as valuable as to create for the sake of creating. So much baloney – this is something taught in Institutions to guarantee they have new students willing to pay vast amounts of money to pay the educators & the  school. I do value education, it’s the mindset of many of those in the Arts that need a serious re-boot. The Artists I know need to sell to buy more paint, canvas, Glass, etc.

    Really, all one has to do is use the verbiage that is popular at any given time to elevate a piece of junk in a reliquary to so-called Fine Art. That is, if they have a formal Art education. Just so you know, I am nowhere near bitter or angry. On the contrary, I enjoy helping people jump the hoops to get into the better Art shows so they can show their work and enjoy a better living.

    Having no formal education in the Arts I’ve worked for the IL Arts Council’s ARtist in Education program for 3 years (a roster of only 102 for the entire state) teaching children how to play with glass, kilns, and torches in safe ways. Artist in Residence for several towns I’ve lived in. Juried Member of the IL Artisans since 1993, Missouri Roster Artist for several years, Recieved many Best of Show, First place, etc. awards, and have enjoyed every minute making friends and changing ideas about what and who an Artist can be and what Art truly is.

    BTW, Fine Craft is often the designation of ‘Flat Glass’ & Lampworked glass for many shows, as if we don’t have as much invested in our materials and work,lol.

    Keep the faith, do what is right for you, and don’t let anyone put your work down. I’ve bought some fantastic Art for less than 10.00.




    have a Lifelong Passion For Glass


    I have complained about this inappropriate post to Paul.  The only way I knew how to do so was by opening a new thread under the “website feedback and suggestions” heading.  Is there any way to ensure that this sort of stupidity does not continue to invade our space?  Ugh!


    Abolutely Disgusting – !!Frown Could our fearless leader block certain words or make sure every person who applys to join has to have each email checked for a few weeks?



    I have a Lifelong Passion For Glass


    Stieglitz told O’Keefe that her work was not art until some rich person purchased it. May not be the answer either but art or craft is about the process. Doing a painting or creating a fused glass piece requires the same thought process. Use your hands and you are a laborer. Use your hands and mind and you are a craftsman. To use your hands, mind and heart you are an artist. I would like to think I use all three when making art or craft.


    Unfortunately, the debate over whether it’s art or craft will more than likely continue. Because of the proliferation of fused glass jewelry, I would guess that success has created its own monster.

    I think it would be an interesting exercise to create larger pieces in glass of fused delights and see if those will pass muster with the same juried shows that exclude jewelry as craft.


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