Reinventing the Wheel

“The music of the wheel will be as balm to your soul. I believe that the yarn we spin is capable of mending the broken warp and woof of our life.” Mahatma Gandhi (1949)

We have unfinished business.

Despite the importance of craft in the ongoing human story, it is often demeaned as “backward”. Most other creative dimensions of life such as fine arts and music are recognised in their own disciplines of knowledge. While much has been written about craft, scholars are often isolated and located in other disciplines. Meanwhile, a generation of craft postgraduates has gone back to the studio or workshop, missing the academic culture. We can be stronger together.

What’s to be done? There is much work needed in putting craft on the agenda in broader discussions such as environment and international relations. Fortunately, there are technologies that now allow collaboration across a dispersed network.

To this end, the Wheel, as a “knowledge house” for craft, is currently being developed. This will be a place to build a deep understanding of the role that craft plays in the world. You can leave your email address here to be updated.

In preparation, a series of talks on the third Wednesday of each month will explore different spokes of the wheel. These provide learnings that will be important in our journey forward. You are welcome to join them.

Your help is appreciated in developing our repository of craft knowledge. See Knowledge Weaving Laboratory for information about our monthly sessions.


Craft – Radical or conservative? Lessons from French and Chinese history - Our Reinventing the Wheel series turns to the changing definitions of craft in France and China. Forrest Pelsue and Xu Wu discuss their articles in the current Journal of Modern Craft.
Displacement: Crafts enterprises as empowerment for refugees and displaced people - As part of the Reinventing the Wheel series, Sharon Tsang de-Lyster reflects on the role of craft in the lives of refugees today.
The spirit of Japanese mingei in Brazil - Our Reinventing the Wheel series considers the evolution of Japanese craft traditions in Brazil, as documented by Liliana Morais and Silvia Sasaoka.
Alchemy in Japanese traditional craft: The transformation of light in Tamahagane forging and polishing - The eleventh talk in our Reinventing the Wheel series is in Kyoto, where Sachiko Tamashige introduces the traditional practice of sword and mirror polishing.
Anying CHEN: Craft revivals in today’s China - The tenth talk in our Reinventing the Wheel series goes to mainland China, where Professor Anying CHEN discusses many projects by his university that revive traditional crafts across the country.
Patricia Flanagan: Tracing the gestures of craft - In the ninth Reinventing the Wheel talk, Tricia Flanagan presents her work with craftspeople which explores the relationship between materials and making through gesture. 
The Art of Masks - The eighth Reinventing the Wheel talk focuses on the craft of protection, as featured in the latest issue of The Journal of Modern Craft.
Ezra Shales: The Shape of Craft - In the seventh Reinventing the Wheel talk, Ezra Shales considers how we should value craft found in everyday work and life.
The role of universities in the success of Korean craft - In our sixth Reinventing the Wheel talk, Hyeyoung Cho reveals the pivotal role of the tertiary sector in the modern Korean craft. This will open up a discussion about the role of universities generally.
One Village One Product: A global platform for local craft - The fifth talk in Reinventing the Wheel takes us to Senegal, where Joseph Ndione will introduce the One Village One Product movement, an international platform for rejuvenating rural communities.
Tiao David Nithakhong Somsanith: The relevance of royal craft today - The fourth talk in Reinventing the Wheel takes us to Laos, where Linda McIntosh will introduce the life and work of a master goldsmith who uses his royal background to uphold craft.
Navigating craft in Moana Oceania: Crafting Aotearoa to Tok Stori Tuesdays - The third talk in Reinventing the Wheel takes us to Moana Oceania, where Lagi-Maama will help us appreciate the customary context for craft.
The Crafts and Rituals of Scent in Arabia - Laila Al-Hamad opens a discussion about the role of scent in our cultures. She describes the objects and rituals that are used to made smell part of Arab life.
Aarti Kawlra: Exploring Craft as a Decolonial Option - You are invited to the first in a series Reinventing the Wheel which gathers craft learning from the wider world.