The traditional craft scene is changing, there is a renaissance bubbling up from the ethers of the ethernet. There’s a generation of established, successful, working crafts people who are trying to grow their businesses, to change with a changing world. There’s also a younger generation, brimming with potential, with native web skills, who are also seeking sustainability in a changing world, and a way to make a living from their hands but lacking the skills to do so. So it seems there should be a place where these folks can connect. Where symbiotic relationships can be formed. This is that place.
apprentice: one who is learning by practical experience under skilled workers a trade, art, or calling
mentor: a wise and trusted counselor or teacher
Apprenticeships have been around since the middle ages. Traditionally, an inexperienced individual would be taken under the wing of a skilled master of a given craft. Over a period of time, the apprentice would work for the mentor and in the process, learn all facets of that craft.
In our society, it doesn't seem like a viable option to graduate from high school and become a craftsperson. Or to graduate college, weighed down by debt to take up a life making a living from your hands. Suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of a convergence of several things:
- The "system" is changing, we’re experiencing an economic crisis but its also an opportunity. We are reevaluating what's important. We are getting creative with how to piece together a living. We are wanting to be in control of how we make our money. When the system is less reliable, we become more independent and self-sufficient.
- We have this tool, the web that allows us all to connect, to have a voice and to represent ourselves with websites, blogs and online shops. This is a time in which tradition can meet technology, where two generations can use the world wide web to find each other on a local level.
- Similar to the 60's there is another back-to-the-land and back-to-basics era emerging. We've had enough of what the box stores have to offer. Food that we grow and cook tastes better. Suddenly farmer’s markets and crafts shows are swelling with young, excited entrepreneurs. Online shops such as those on ETSY are booming. However such places can also be overwrought with items that lack craftsmenship or people that lack business savvy. Some just don’t have experience and they're simply wingin' it. They could benefit from the knowledge of a generation already adept at this way of life.
Mentors have the potential to not only pass on their skills but to give those who could never have the time or the money or the know-how, the ability to invest in their passion. They can ensure that crafts stay alive and vibrant for future generations.
There are all levels of potential apprenticeships out there. Some as extensive as the traditional 7 years and some simply lasting for a given event. For example, a potter looking for help selling their work at a craft show in exchange for teaching about how to sell at craft shows. It could be a live-in situation; an apprentice could work for their mentor for a number of days a week in exchange for room and board. Or it could be more casual, meeting once a week for a few hours. Simply go to the directory to peruse or create a listing. You decide what you are looking for or what you want to put out there.