Craft Platforms: Craft Key Findings


In our project, we define craft as a skilled activity in which makers plan, explore materials, produce functional objects, and inherit cultural heritage.

From the view of our project’s UK participants, craft is handmade, involves skill, tradition, a relationship to material, and hard manual labour. Craft is seen as practice based, the applied skill for artistic and useful purposes, the development of more products and ideas, being good for people’s mental health, and involving experimentation.

Figure 1: Summaries of the definition of craft by key figures in major historical periods

From the view of China’s participants, craft is Handwork, cultural, art, skill, traditional/modern, industrial (Qing dynasty). In China, handicraft has been named “arts and crafts” for a long time to highlight the characteristics of the integration of handicraft and artistry, and was confused with “industrial design” for a long period of time in the 20th century, but deep into its essence mainly refers to the traditional culture based on the manual way of creation and products.

Figure 2: Summaries of the definition of craft in China over time


UK: the above is a concise categorisation of craft used by craft council (McAuley and Fillis, 2004) in a socio-economic survey of craft activity in England and Wales. This categorisation was based on craft businesses and was adopted in the survey of our project. UK statistics, DCMS also have categories of craft based on makers’ job.

CHINA: compared to the UK, China has a wider range of types of craft. The above is a concise categorisation of craft used by《Review Measures for Chinese Arts and Crafts Masters》2005.



It is very inspiring to understand the value of craft from different craft stakeholders.

  • Time and skill involved (time spent making)
  • Authenticity of the process and product
  • Uniqueness
  • Creativity
  • Positive ethical values
  • Sustainable
  • Individual and personal
  • Benefit to mental health
  • Relaxing
  • Providing people with a sense of achievement
  • A form of self-expression
  • A means of escaping without going outside the door
  • Enabling a different way of thinking and living
  • Connecting with history
  • Expressing the past, present, and future
  • Tells a story
  • Preserves traditions of making things by hands
  • Utilising the materials which we don’t use anymore
  • Demonstrates care and respect
  • Enjoy the process
  • Don’t need much protection
  • More natural
  • Vivid (as in embroidery)
  • Profound traditional culture and wisdom of creation
  • The real aesthetic feeling of Chinese traditional art
  • Inherit and spread traditional culture
  • A national and regional style
  • The exquisite craftsmanship
  • To restore traditional craftsmanship
  • Return to the nature of creation
  • Let machine production not replace handicraft
  • Keep pace with the times
  • Good practical functionality
  • Try new designs
  • Make tradition fashionable and delicate
  • The entrust drift with thing
  • Express the personal ideas of the designer or producer
  • Collection value and appreciation space


The table below lists the challenges that makers face in both countries.

  • Lack of opportunity (sales)
  • Lack of confidence
  • Lack of financial support for education
  • No access to technologies
  • Throwaway culture
  • Budget cuts
  • Lack of facilities (economic depression)
  • Long time to learn skills
  • Hard to find factories to small branch production


  • Middle-class people
  • People who interested in buying collections
  • Gender: 70.06% are female
  • Age: 20-30 years old accounted for 42.48% , 31-40 years old for 26.58%
  • Education level: 68.82% are university degree or above
  • Annual income: 42.07% annual income less than 50,000 yuan, 33.00% annual income 5-100,000 yuan, 18.56% annual income 11-300,000 yuan, 6.37% annual income more than 300,000 yuan


There are a wealth of national and local guilds and associations to support and boost crafts in the UK, and those craft organisations are more likely to be bottom-up. The table below lists part of the craft organizations/ communities who supported our project in the UK and China:

Craft Council

National development agency for crafts in the UK offers a crafts directory and magazine, plus information about its crafts collection available for loan. Also showcases new craft talent from the UK.

Craft Scotland

Craft Scotland is the national development agency for craft.

Yorkshire Artspace

Yorkshire Artspace provides studio space to around 170 artists and makers across two studio sites in Sheffield city centre.

Craft Scotland

Supports and promotes talented designer-makers from all backgrounds through all stages of their career.

Hunan Arts and Crafts Vocational College

It is one of the four national vocational colleges of Arts and Crafts, one of the 100 national exemplary (backbone) vocational colleges, one of the first national pilot units of modern apprenticeship, and a research base for the protection of intangible cultural heritage in Hunan Province.

Changsha Tongguan Porcelain Guild

Changsha Tongguan Porcelain Guild was recognized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as the protection unit of traditional arts and crafts “Changsha Kiln Tongguan Porcelain firing technology” project.

Craft organisations

Bottom up: Craft council(official), Creative Arts Business Network (CABN), Fife contemporary, open makerspaces, etc.

Top down: China Arts and Crafts Association, China National Arts and Crafts Society, national arts and Crafts industry Association of provinces and cities


  • Green Paper, Building Our Industrial Strategy
    (HM Government, 2017)
  • Let’s Create- the new Arts Council England 10
    year strategy
  • The Cultural Learning Alliance- a good source
    of current gaps in creative education policy
  • Review of Chinese Arts and Crafts Masters
  • Regulations on the Protection of Traditional Arts and Crafts(1997)
  • Notice on Strengthening The Protection of Cultural Heritage (2005)
  • Law of the People’s Republic of China on intangible Cultural Heritage
  •  National Intangible Cultural Heritage List
  • Chinese Traditional craft Revitalization Program (2017)
  • First batch of traditional craft revitalization directory (2018)
  • Notice on Supporting the Establishment of Intangible Cultural Heritage Poverty Alleviation Employment Workshops (2018)

Contact Us has been produced by the project research team at Queen Mary University of London, UK, and Hunan University, China.

Contact E-mail:

For more information or to speak to the craft research team, please contact:

Prof. Nick Bryan-Kinns

School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science
Queen Mary University of London
London E1 4NS

Prof. Hao Tan

School of Design, Hunan University
Yuelu Mountain, Changsha