Native Hispanic craft in danger of becoming extinct

Increasing numbers of native crafts around the world are now in danger of becoming extinct or lost, primarily because of their time-consuming existence, and fewer craftsmen who practice these skills.

A Red List published by the Heritage Crafts Association in Britain lists the number of critically endangered crafts there every two years, from Sheffield scissors to London watchmaking. Since 2007, the figure has more than tripled.

However, efforts are underway in some destinations to promote these disappearing crafts as hobbies or souvenirs, especially in areas with specific historical ties to specific traditions.

Geetika Agrawal began Vacation with An Artist to provide travellers with a platform to book mini apprenticeships with master craftsmen around the world, helping “threatened crafts.” “We’ve all heard about endangered species and forests— now imagine global crafts at risk of extinction,” Ms Agrawal wrote in an email.

As younger generations are now pursuing other professions, ageing populations are unable to pass down traditional skills, she said. “We risk losing important global art, history and knowledge.” Four vulnerable crafts and the places that keep them alive are discussed here.

The Santa Fe, N.M. Modern Spanish Market is the world’s largest and oldest modern Hispanic crafts jury show. The Spanish Colonial Arts Society was founded in 1925 to encourage and conserve crafts, including Colcha embroidery (using naturally dyed yarn), crafted copper gravings, gesso and painted reliefs, retablos (devotional paintings) and straw added. The annual summer fair draws over 70,000 people; Albuquerque also has a Winter Spanish Fair.

The earliest Hispanic crafts, such as Santos (wooden saints) and leather altars with damask silk interiors, were those in religious arts. “We only had one typical basket weaver and she fell out,” complained the Spanish business owner, David Rasch. Hispanic pottery is more common, made from micaceous clay and used to cook vegetables such as beans. “If an artist wants to create a new category of craft, he or she must provide the Standards Committee with research that includes historical references,” Mr Rasch said.

The organization started a youth program in 1981, for ages 7 to 17, so that the younger generation could learn and maintain these arts.