Sunday, March 28, 2021

Crafts of Olden Days – with Giveaway By Donna Schlachter

Neolithic Gold Bead by Mark Cartwright

Crafting is a creative process that has occupied humans for many years. Depending on the social and financial situation of the crafter, they might produce an item solely for use, such as knitted socks, a clay jar to carry water, or a wooden tool or implement such as a wheelbarrow or a chisel. When societies had solved most of their day-to-day problems such as gathering or producing enough food and water, or providing sufficient clothing and shelter, they might turn their attention to producing items used more for decoration or demonstration of status, such as embroidery, decorative wood carving, and jewelry.

The earliest stage of crafting began with early man as every object needed had to be made by hand. Without automation, this could often be tedious and labor-intensive. Consider that to knit socks, they first had to raise sheep or have access to the wool. Then somebody had to spin it, perhaps dye the wool, before the knitter actually sat with needles and a pattern in hand.

Oh, wait. No patterns. At least, nothing officially published, at least not until the early 19th century. Before that, patterns were passed along and passed down by word of mouth or perhaps on scraps of papyrus or eventually paper. 

Decorative and household items have been found as early as 6500 BC, and each culture had its own unique style and process, using raw materials readily available, such as types of clay, gemstones, wood types, and metals. By far, gold is the most widely used metal, and as metallurgy advanced, bronze (the mixing of copper and tin) became widespread.

As sea travel advanced, sailors often returned home with samples from other people groups, spreading the styles and processes all over the world. Around 1000 BC, the Phonecians brought crafts from the English isles back to the Mediterranean, while sharing their own processes with the Brits and Celts.

During the Renaissance period, crafting moved from necessity to decoration. Folks specialized in particular crafts, including metal work, jewelry-making, clay work, needlework, and the like. The wealthy often employed craftsmen and craftswomen whose sole job was to do what they were best at. Unions and groups formed that regulated what the craftspeople could do, often testing them to determine their level of skill. It is here we see apprenticeships and journeymen and master designations important in controlling the craftspeople and setting appropriate prices.

In the Industrial Revolution, machines were designed to replicate the manual skills in areas such as weaving, carving, woodworking, beadwork, in response to the increased population’s demand for products.

As mentioned before, in the early 1800s, patterns were published for common products such as knitted items, dresses, and needlework. Near the 1900s, manuals and instruction books became popular as most families no longer employed craftspeople, and producing craft items became indicative of leisure and free time.

Regardless of the reason—to produce something useful or beautiful or both—creativity is a trait we share with our ancestors, which shouldn’t surprise us, since we are made in the image of a creative God.

Giveaway: leave a comment, and I will randomly draw one winner of a tin-punch kit. Include your email in this format: email AT server DOT extension. For example, donna AT historythrutheages DOT com

About Donna:

Donna writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas, full-length novels, and non-fiction books. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Rock, SinC, Pikes Peak Writers, Capitol Christian Writers Fellowship, Christian Women Writers, and Christian Authors Network; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; blogs regularly for Heroes, Heroines, and History; and judges in writing contests.



  1. Interesting post. Crafters now a days have it a lot easier than they did years ago. We already have ready made supplies to craft with. We don't craft to sell, but my son can do wonders with wood (He has made things from scratch, though, went out and salvaged a fallen tree to make items from)I love sewing-which was handed down to me from from my mom and Grandma. They sewed, but more as a necessity than something to do in their free time (which I don't think they had much of).

    1. Hi Janet, thanks for stopping by. Yes, as I mentioned in the post, most crafts originated to fill a need. It wasn't until the Victorian era that a lot of items were decorative, and if they did meet a need, did so in a beautiful way.

  2. I really had no I idea that crafts went that far back.
    Theresa Norris
    weceno at yahoo dot com

    1. Hi Theresa, the beauty of it all is that we are made in the image of a Creative God, who instilled that love to make something from little into something beautiful.

  3. Thanks so much for posting! Such a great topic.
    bcrug AT twc DOT com

  4. Thank you for sharing your very interesting post.
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  5. Stevejoin AT DonohoAnalytics DOT com

    How interesting! I've never tin punched before, but I love my tin "icicles" that I got years ago at the Johnny Appleseed Festival.

    1. Hi Lisa, I made a tin punch "lantern" at a local re-enactors event. It was a lot of fun.

  6. Thank you for sharing This is such a great post! Sarahbaby601973(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. Great post about the history of crafting. Crafters have it made today with all the machines and patterns. I've seen embroidered quits that were actually done on a machine instead of by hand. marilynridgway78 [at]gmail[dot]com

    1. Hi Marilyn, thanks. And I've seen handmade quilts that were so perfect they looked like they were done on a machine :)