Summary of research project
With the rise of industrial design and the global timber trade, resourceful and skilled craftspeople grappled with changing relations to labour through their hands, minds and tools; from cottage industry to industrial workhouse and back. From a practice-led perspective, my research seeks to better understand how shifting values attached to craft and design are evidenced in the unfolding biographies of woodturning lathes and their associated chisels and gouges through a comparative typological and stylistic study of museum objects and working tool kits.
Changing economic demands and technological developments required adaptations of body technique and repurposed craft knowledge. Through constant shifts between different social, material, and economic spheres, tools of the trade accumulate histories and identities as they move between the hands of different craftspeople. This process culminates in their decommissioning as working tools and subsequent acquisition by museums and collectors, adding layers and chapters to already complex biographies. Through combined qualitative and quantitative approaches, my research traces the lives, meanings and attachments people have made to otherwise overlooked objects by elevating them to heirlooms of craft knowledge and material embodiments of social change.