lost crafts

Lost Crafts by Una McGovern has been a surprisingly good read.

The book covers around 100 crafts with about 3 pages each. I expected it to be superficial and poorly written, the sort of thing you get in the local paper.

In fact each craft gets a very accurate and concise summary with interesting anecdotes. The range chosen is interesting and the author clearly has a deep personal understanding and interest in many of the crafts described, or maybe she is just a very good researcher and writer.

As someone who has worked full time in the traditional crafts for 15 years and read everything that has been written from Cobbet and Morris to Yanagi, Leach and Pye I still learnt quite a few things from this book. I particularly enjoyed the section on traditional boat building, despite working in woodland crafts and before that traditional forestry I could not fault the sections on coppicing, hedge laying green wood crafts, clogmaking etc. I read the first and only plausible explanation I have seen of how to tickle a trout and good descriptions of eel catching too.

The book is not as deep as Dorothy Hartley’s 1939 classic “Made in England”
but is probably much better suited to the modern reader.

I would heartily recommend it and shall be buying several copies as gifts, good price for a nice hardback too.


5 Responses to lost crafts

  1. Jude February 18, 2009 at 6:34 am #

    Thanks for that Robin,after your recommendation it looks like it could be a birthday present for my husband.

  2. The Great Ethan Allen February 18, 2009 at 11:40 am #

    I’ll have to check that one out! Another similar book is OAK: Building of Nations. It discribed all the crafts that harvesting oaks came from. Very interresting read.

  3. TREEWRIGHT February 18, 2009 at 12:20 pm #

    Have you seen The Forgotten Arts by John Seymour ?

  4. Robin Wood February 18, 2009 at 12:32 pm #

    By gum Seymour is an old one, his complete guide to self sufficiency is a classic, the forgotten arts I think less so. I don’t have the oak book will look out for it.

  5. hen February 19, 2009 at 6:03 pm #

    I’ve been on the look out for a book exactly like this one sounds! Thanks Robin.henx