Smarty Pants Podcast

Reclaiming Craftiness

What the things we make with our hands tell us about ourselves

By Stephanie Bastek | February 9, 2018
Courtesy W. W. Norton & Company

If you’re a creature of the 21st century, odds are you’ve stumbled upon the nascent DIY movement. From baking our bread to stitching our own clothes to raising back yard chickens and growing our own vegetables—even restoring our own furniture—the past few decades have seen a resurgence in our appreciation for crafts, right down to craft beer. But have you ever thatched your own roof with grasses that you grew in your own back yard? Or spent hours researching the secret behind making the best kind of haystack? Alexander Langlands has, and in his new book, Cræft, he takes DIY to a whole new level. Part how-to, part memoir, the book gets at what it means to make things with your own hands, and how this experience connects us both to the past and to our present sense of place.



Go beyond the episode:

  • Alexander Langlands’s Cræft: An Inquiry into the Origins and True Meaning of Traditional Crafts
  • Old meets new in this Pinterest board of traditional tools to complement the book
  • Watch Alexander Langlands re-create early 20th-century life on the BBC’s Edwardian Farmpreceded by Victorian Farm
  • Or there’s Wartime Farm, which returns an English estate to its condition during the Second World War
  • Can’t get enough of the BBC? There’s also  Tudor Monastery Farmfeaturing one of our past guests, Ronald Hutton
  • Jump into the circular economy through old-fashioned mending: visit a Repair Café to learn how to make things last

Tune in every two weeks to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek.

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Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes!


Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

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