When Craft becomes Art

Posted by on Oct 4, 2011 in our blog | 2 comments

glass sculpture by Bernard Katz -Shima in tea  

Art vs. Craft – part three


In part one of Art vs. Craft; I rolled through some of the aspects for the term, “craft”. Good or bad, craft tends to rely more heavily on the mechanical end of the creative process – that is, the physical act of making something.

In part two; I made my attempt at defining “art”, or more specifically, ” fine art”. Ambiguous terms such as the word “art”, are almost impossible to define in a concise way. That is why I believe the ambiguity of these words has been at the root in the questioning of what art is, and what craft is.

It walks like art… it quacks like art, so it must be…

I remember when I first began to learn how to blow glass. I remember making that first little blob-like vase that could barely keep from tipping over. But I also remember how the desire to master the material quickly took over as a big priority.

Let’s say hello to fine crafts.

Some may say fine craft is the emotionless cousin to fine art… as for me…

Many years later;  I had developed the skills and confidence I needed when working with glass. I didn’t necessarily feel as though I was making “art” per say – but rather “designing an aesthetic”. However, the craftsmanship was there, and that was important to me just the same.

Fine Craft is about designing an aesthetic.

When designing something that is considered beautiful, or has a good aesthetic, it takes a good amount of creative energy to make it work. The creative energy needed in good design can be comparable to the creative energy needed in producing a one-of-a-kind sculpture that is considered “fine art”.

But is good design just visual gymnastics? …Maybe… probably.

When Craft becomes Art

I knew for myself the exact moment when the boundaries between craft and art vanished.

While working on a body of new work, playing with some forms that I had been developing… I noticed that there was something more happening that I couldn’t put my finger on. It was a little more than just an “ah-ha” moment (I knew that because I have ah-ha moments eight times a day).

I asked my assistant at the time, to take a look at what I was working on. She was generally a quiet person and probably just humored me whenever I asked her opinion. Normally, our conversations about my work revolved around technical things like color choices, proportions, and maybe thoughts about the overall design.

This time, however, her response was different. She took more than a few moments, turned to me and quietly said, “It moves me.”

Is it art or is it craft? – Does it matter?

– Bernard Katz

Art vs. Craft

  • Part one – Is it Art or Craft? – Does it Matter?
  • Part two – Fine Art – Concept gives Longevity
  • Part three – When Craft becomes Art

Additional links and resources


  1. In the area that I live in, Akron, Ohio, about 7 or 8 years ago I finally found some local glass studios that offered workshops. I was thrilled to be able to finally try blowing glass, something that I had wanted to do for decades.
    Now, after so many years I still love to work the glass, play with the colors and try new things. Unfortunately, due to the fact that it is costly and as to develop any skills takes time and in this case money. If given the chance I know what I need to do is to be able to work consistently, to hone the basics and move on.
    The question of whether what I do is art or a craft is a no brainer. With me, it is obviously a craft that I would so much love to turn into art. Some pieces everything seems to click or I guess I should say, almost everything.
    Due to the internet I have been able to meet people from all over the world and some have seen my better pieces and I have made gifts of them and in some cases even been able to sell some. So I have glass, not only coast to coast but even a few pieces in Europe. A thrill to me but not so much as to give me a fat head over it.
    I wish that my crafting would develop more towards the art side of the line and I would be able to sell enough to feed my desire to be able to work more. I wish….that I could make a home studio so I could work more often but so far….it hasn’t happened but I haven’t totally given up on the dream.
    Thank you for the article explaining art vs craft it is as I believe. Mentally I have a good idea as to what needs to be done but lack the technique that I believe comes only from consistent work. Maybe, just maybe some day but till then I will enjoy the hobby.

    • Thank you for your inspirational comment. I agree, blowing glass is very expensive and acquiring the desired skills can be challenging… Sometimes limitations can be the mother of invention.