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Crafts

Crafts

‘Every man is Jack-of-all-trades ... the want of regular tradesmen and mechanics is but little felt’
FM Eden, State of the Poor 1797, vol. 1

Crafts
‘Every man is Jack-of-all-trades ... the want of regular tradesmen and mechanics is but little felt’
FM Eden, State of the Poor 1797, vol. 1
Jack-of-all-trades
‘Jack-of-all-trades and master of none’? Not so in the Highlands and Islands: old croft houses are evidence of that! Storms might rage but scarce a slate gets blown off. Inside many, the original wood panelling can still be seen. Running water and electricty had been installed by the latter part of the 20th century. Painted and decorated inside and out, the houses sit trim and neatly on the croft. Yet most of the work would have been done by the crofters themselves rather than skilled specialists.

Necessity, the mother of invention
Another old saying, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’, underlies the crofter’s ability to turn a ready hand to any task and to do it well. There are few, if any, tradesmen in remote areas to turn to in time of need. If a job has to be done, then the crofter has to do it, whether it be joinery, plumbing, electrical fitting or painting. And what is true of men is equally true of women.

Traditional home crafts
Pottery for use as crockery was crafted by women. Where brushwood was plentiful, basket weaving was common. Cooking and dairy utensils were adapted to local needs and the availability of materials. Spinning, dyeing, weaving and knitting were cottage industries which usually involved both men and women.

Special skills
A few trades did require specialists. One such was the blacksmith, much in demand because of his skills with iron. In the warlike Middle Ages, he made chain-mail shirts and weapons. By the 18th century, work at the smiddy had diversified into the shoeing of horses, and the making of metal tools and other implements for use in the farming and fishing industries.

Other craftsmen emerged such as weavers, shoemakers, tailors, coopers, boat builders, saddlers and wheelwrights. Many crafted wooden furniture for tacksmen (estate managers) in the great furniture styles (Queen Anne, Georgian, Regency). The wandering craftsmen (ceardean) created their own intricate silver patterns in the brooches and other trinkets they made. The skilled thatcher was needed too if a house was to be well roofed.

9 Results


Images: 15Basket Weaving
Images: 113Carving
Images: 79Furniture
Images: 14Rope Making
Images: 86Spinning
Images: 275Thatching
Images: 158Weaving

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