Throughout civilization, craftsmen have been celebrated for their ability to create. Their creations range from the practical such as cutlery, to the artistic and luxurious such as jewellery. In this article, we feature 5 types of craftsmen around the world who have taken years of practice and refinement to master their skills.
Glass Blowers – Italy
Known also as ‘the glass island’, Murano in Italy carries a 700-year-old glass making history. Outsiders are always (naturally) curious at how a blob of molten glass can be blown into an exquisite art piece by a master craftsman. Using a hollow steel tube, molten glass is pulled from the furnace and rolled into shape on a work table. The master then carefully blows warm air through the pipe, causing the glass to bubble and be moulded into the desired shape. Today, the recipe and techniques are still a kept secret by glassblowers in Murano, making their glass pieces a highly sought-after product world-wide.
Jade Lapidaries – New Zealand
Situated on the South Island, Hokitika is the jade capital of New Zealand. The mining and carving of jade started with the Maoris and this craft has successfully been passed down through the generations. New Zealand jade or as the local calls it, pounamu, is known for its strength, durability, beauty and imbued with mythological and spiritual beliefs. Jade is crafted into jewellery as well as weapons for the Maoris. As every piece of jade is unique, master carvers must study the colour, clarity and patterning before craving can begin. Each piece of jade is cut, grinded and polished by hand into designs that tell a story about the culture of the island.
Mikoshi Builders – Japan
A mikoshiis a portable shrine that resembles a miniature building, with pillars, walls, a roof, a veranda and a railing. During the Mikoshi Festival in japan, devotees carry specially crafted mikoshis on their shoulders and transport them from the shrine to different locations around the shrine’s neighbourhood. The making of a mikoshi takes about a year to complete and is made by a special wood joining technique. Grooves are cut into the wood and projecting parts fitted to build the mikoshi without the use of a single nail. The mikoshi base is made of durable Japanese zelkova and each craftsman is assigned a specialised role to work on. In addition to the kijiya (wood workers), other craftsmen involved are the chokinya (decorative metal workers), the urushiya (lacquer workers), and the hakuya (goldbeaters). The building of a mikoshi requires the harmonic effort of a team of craftsmen with different skills.
Medals Maker – Singapore
Every medal tells a story of honour and achievement. In order to craft a medal worthy of its recipient, medal makers have to master the art of precision and excellence. Situated at the north of Singapore, ELM is home to a group of medal makers who crafts state medals for countries all around the world. Every craftsman starts off as an apprentice and work his way up the ranks to finally be commissioned as a master. In the beginning, an apprentice is responsible for the preparation of his mentor’s work station. Only after gaining the confidence of his mentor will the apprentice be entrusted with further skills like preparation of raw material and actual metal work. The spirit of excellence from these medal makers is translated into the medals, ensuring that the recipients receive the recognition that they so rightfully deserve.