The term Arts and Crafts often conjures up the images of sticky white glue, an abundance of glitter and uncooked macaroni. Add a little construction paper, some blunt-ended scissors and a few gallons of paint and the mental picture is complete. This picture however, would be inaccurate and out of date.
The Arts and Crafts movement started in America, England, Australia and Canada in the late 19th Century and continued through the early part of the 20th century. It was a response to two influences - the constant recycling of past styles by the Victorians and the newly shaping industrial revolution. Unlike the Victorian desire for a return to the ornate decorative styles of times long past, the Arts and Crafts movement favored sleek lines with a simple elegance. The industrial revolution was quickly making handcrafted objects obsolete. The movement tried to counteract this trend by valuing the average person's contribution to the aesthetic environment. Lofty beginnings for what is thought of by some as a frivolous past time. The influence of the Arts and Crafts movement can be seen in everything from houses to small homemade objects. At one time, Sears even sold "kit houses", the precursor to modern prefabricated houses that are on the market today.
What began as a small aesthetic movement has become a big business. Celebrities like Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray have built entire careers on being crafty around the house and in the kitchen. Arts and Crafts have whole magazines dedicated to being crafty; No one calls it "doing arts and crafts" any more, its "being crafty" or "crafting". Thanks to the internet, a whole range of supplies are available to almost anyone. Bookstores have entire shelves dedicated to books about various arts and crafts. There are general publications and others devoted solely to one pursuit, like scrapbooking, quilt making or card making. These crafts vary in difficulty and expense; sometimes buying an item is actually cheaper than making it yourself. Some people have even started successful high end businesses based on a particular craft or crafts.
Being crafty has become so popular because it relies completely on the artist's imagination, no art degrees or classes required. The materials are as inexpensive or expensive as the artist chooses to buy so crafting works with any budget. This makes it fun for the whole family and a wonderful way to spend a day or evening doing something fun. After all, that is what art should be - fun!