Cultures of Making
“The city surprises with treasures of material culture at every turn. The ghosts of generations of woodworkers, metalsmiths, and potters are our invisible companions as we make our work among the shops in which they labored. Craft genres themselves—unceasing and continuous cultures of making— are manifest in our day-to-day surroundings.”
-Don Miller, Philadelphia woodworker and contributor to Craft Capital: Philadelphia’s Cultures of Making
Cultures of making have the ability to nurture cultures of understanding. Philadelphia has been a leading center for craft and the handmade for well over 250 years — ever since the city’s wealth and progressivism in the eighteenth century attracted artisans from far and wide, including London’s best carvers as well as a certain printer from Boston — Benjamin Franklin.
Today, Philadelphia, and the surrounding region, continues to be a vital center for craft activity. Organizations and a talented population of artists and makers dedicated to the field of craft call this region home. The result is a creative ecosystem and a diversity of craft cultures, which range widely in terms of medium, ethnic heritage, and relation to technology.
CraftNOW Philadelphia is a convener and supporter of this ecosystem, uniting these individuals, galleries, museums, universities, retailers, and civic organizations through events ranging from studio tours to the hands-on CraftNOW Create to the annual symposium, and a citywide exhibition series, which is dedicated in 2020 to the theme Cultures of Making.
People of all backgrounds and political viewpoints make things — craft acts as a community convener in this way. Craft is inclusive about the “experience of making,” according to Glenn Adamson, prolific author and curator, and editor of the CraftNOW publication, Craft Capital: Philadelphia’s Cultures of Making. “Working with materials not only connects us with the pleasure of ‘hands-on’ activity; it also can promote social cohesion and foster a culture of understanding,” Adamson said in a 2016 interview.
Craft has the ability to be a safe space to experience working with diverse materials as well as diverse people; it creates a connection between the Philadelphia region’s neighborhoods and people. Because of this, the region has been a center of skill, innovation, and community — a fact that still rings true.
“Whatever the future holds, one thing is certain: Philadelphia’s craftspeople will be here, ringing the change,” Glenn Adamson said in Craft Capital: Philadelphia’s Cultures of Making. CraftNOW’s research and advocacy ensures that makers are able to find the resources they need for success, and that City and regional leadership continue to support Philadelphia’s vital and vibrant craft community.
To explore CraftNOW Philadelphia partner organizations by neighborhood, please visit the Explore page.
“Philadelphia is a remarkable environment in which to contemplate and make craft. Historical spaces and artifacts permeate the present as nowhere else in the country.”
-Don Miller, Craft Capital: Philadelphia’s Cultures of Making