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The Craft of Crafting


Yarden Amir

About Design track

Mentor — 

Itay Ohaly

This study examines the continuity of traditional and new digital crafts and inquires specifically about the perceived value of traditional craftwork: To what extent is this value expressed in craftworks that use the technologies of the digital revolution? 

This issue was initially examined through a variety of materials and technologies, and currently the research focuses on the specific case study of the encounter between ceramic materials and the laser etching technology. Not only does this encounter offer the potential of providing interesting outputs in design terms, but it also clearly and intuitively represent the encounter between the old and new craft worlds. On the one hand, ceramics is one of humanity’s oldest crafts; the material itself has changed little over time, and the ceramic work familiar to us today still relies on techniques used by craftspersons in the preindustrial age. On the other hand, laser etching is a technology developed over the past few decades, and has become accessible to nearly everyone in the industrialized world a few years ago. 

In an attempt to blend these two crafts, I have developed a method of glazing ceramic tools selectively. The power of laser enables it to transform the ceramic material into glaze, and only in predetermined places. This opens the path for designing ceramic tools using new digital techniques. 

It is found that the above mentioned technological and cultural gaps may be bridged without detracting from the functionality of ceramic tools or the digital richness provided by laser etching. To do so, the craftsperson must understand the physical processes occurring when tools are burned as well as master the technology of the laser etching machine. Above all, the craftsperson must understand how to synthesize his or her knowledge accurately and effectively. Only this way, the merging of old information can lead to the formation of a new, hybrid craft. Observing the process whereby a new craft is born offers insights regarding the value sources of digital craft and the interrelations between them and the traditional craft world.

Special thanks:

Shira Silverston, Itay Goren, and Yonatan Hop – technical consulting

Dafna Levi Banai and Abed Al-Jabra – ceramic work

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Yarden Amir

Yarden Amir is a creative designer and a workshop director in Bezalel, with an M.Des in industrial design from Bezalel, and a BA and MA in Jewish History from Tel Aviv University. Yarden became a designer after a career in teaching, and began working as a freelance carpenter providing services to internal and industrial designers. Right now, while studying at Bezalel, Yarden directs the Bezalel Makers Workshop at Hansen House, Jerusalem. Having arrived at the design world from the craft worlds, and since he engages with this area on a daily basis, in recent years Yarden has studied the craft sphere in Israel and worldwide, with emphasis on the encounter between digital and traditional crafts. Accordingly, in his works Yarden produces interesting combinations of digital technologies together with craftwork. His final project deals with selective glazing of ceramic materials using laser etching technology, an encounter designed to practice the development of an old-new craft. As a designer, Yarden’s works have been displayed in exhibitions at Hansen House and Binyamini House, as well as in the Jerusalem Design Week.

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