Eight crafts saved from extinction

words Al Woods

New research has revealed that social media has helped to save a number of different crafts from dying out. According to the Heritage Crafts Association, eight crafts are now classed as ‘currently viable’, which means that these traditional crafts are likely to be passed on to the next generation.

Crafts revival

Research by embroidery design resource Design Bundles has revealed that social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok have helped to improve the popularity of these crafts over the past year. The previously endangered crafts were at serious risk of being lost forever with the past generation.

Users have been sharing tutorials and progress videos of their crafts and hashtagging them to spread awareness. Based on the number of hashtags and video views, as well as Google searches, Design Bundles has created an index score of the eight crafts to see which ones are most popular online.

Macrame, a craft that involves tying knots to create intricate designs, has topped the list as the most popular of the eight crafts online. Google users around the world searched for macrame 432,000 times on average each month during 2021. The craft appeared in over 8.6 million Instagram hashtags and 683 million hashtag views on TikTok. YouTube also had around 9,587 videos of macrame uploaded each month in 2021. The videos often include step by step instructions on how to create items such as wall art and bags.

Another previously endangered craft that has seen a resurgence in popularity is candle making. Whilst the craft wasn’t as popular in terms of Google searches, having only 54,000 each month compared to the whopping 432,000 of macrame, candle making proved more popular on social media.

There were over 1.5 million hashtags about candle making on Instagram, in addition to over 1.3 billion hashtag views on TikTok. Although many people make candles as a hobby, there has been a steady rise in candle businesses too. Reports show that the industry could be worth $5 billion by 2026.

One of the most popular ways to make candles is using soy wax. Not only does this create long-lasting candles, but the wax is also made from a renewable resource. There are over 2,900 videos on YouTube that contain information about how to make candles, as well as the best materials to use.

Craft revival

The most popular crafts saved from extinction

Beadwork has seen the third-highest volume of videos on YouTube, with around 793 uploaded videos each month in the past year. Crafters can use a variety of techniques using beads and string to create jewellery and art.

The craft has also gained the third-largest fanbase on TikTok after receiving over 137.4 million hashtags in 2021. A further 1.63 million hashtags were also recorded on Instagram during the same time period.

Despite the popularity of bead working on social media, the craft only received an average of 20 Google searches around the world each month in 2021. This was the lowest volume that any of the eight crafts received in terms of online searches.

One of the next popular crafts in the index is called lapidary, which may be an unfamiliar term to some. It involves the practice of engraving and shaping stones and gemstones into shapes and patterns using cutting and grinding tools. On average, the craft is googled 26,000 times each month.

Lapidary has had over 40 million hashtag views on TikTok each month, as well as over 1.6 million Instagram hashtags each month on average. However, there were only 327 YouTube videos that were uploaded each month over the course of the last year. This is a fraction of the YouTube videos that were uploaded about the higher ranking crafts of macrame and candle making.

The art form that places in fifth place on the index score is Islamic calligraphy. This craft involves writing Islamic words and letters using calligraphy techniques. Some of the languages that artists use to write include Arabic, Persian and Urdu.

In 2021, Islamic calligraphy was googled an average of 17,000 times each month. The craft also averaged over 13.4 hashtags every month on TikTok, as well as over 535,000 hashtags on Instagram. There are also an average of 345 videos that are published to YouTube every month. Many of the videos feature time-lapse footage of artists writing words using the technique that dates back to the 7th century.

The table below shows the index score and ranking of eight different crafts that were added to Heritage Crafts Association’s ‘currently viable crafts’ list in 2021. Their ranking is based on the number of online searches, as well as hashtag and video volume on social media platforms. The list of endangered crafts is ranked from most popular to least.

Index ScoreRankCraftNumber of monthly Google Searches (Globally)TikTok Hashtag ViewsInstagram HashtagsNumber of YouTube Videos (Past year)
1Macrame432,000683,300,0008,600,0009,587
2Candle Making54,0001,343,300,0001,518,9002,962
3Bead working20137,400,0001,630,000793
4Lapidary26,00040,800,0001,652,000327
5Islamic calligraphy17,00013,428,900535,500345
6Intaglio27,00010,926,000320,000191
7Corset Making35032,900,00086,80031
8Darkroom Photography3,000297,560127,19019

Intaglio, corset making and darkroom photography are the final three crafts that feature on the index. Due to the power of social media, they are not counted as critically endangered crafts by The Heritage Crafts Association.

The three crafts have proven less popular on YouTube than some of the index’s other crafts, although they are more popular on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

On average, the art of intaglio is googled 27,000 each month. Intaglio is a printmaking technique that involves cutting into a printing plate, which then creates images when ink is applied and stamped onto paper or fabric. There were around 10.9 million views of TikTok hashtags relating to intaglio each month in 2021, along with approximately 320,000 monthly Instagram hashtags.

Corset making proved more popular than intaglio and Islamic calligraphy in terms of the number of TikTok hashtags views the craft received each month. Around 32.9 million hashtags relating to corset making were viewed on TikTok each month, along with 86,800 Instagram hashtags.

Corsets were a traditional undergarment that women wore for aesthetic purposes throughout history. Their popularity wavered in the latter half of the 20th century, although social media has helped to revive interest in the garment. An average of 86,800 Instagram hashtags each month were published throughout 2021, which were attached to images and videos of corset making.

A further 31 YouTube videos were posted each month on average. These videos showed users how they could make their own corset, including advice on how to take measurements and which materials to use. There were only 350 average Google searches focused on corset making in 2021, which was the second-lowest volume of the eight crafts.

Another traditional craft skill that was common in the 19th and 20th centuries was darkroom photography. This technique was used to process photographic film, but it was replaced in popularity by the invention of digital cameras. Ironically, Instagram has helped revive the art of darkroom photography, even though the platform is used to share digital photographs online. An average of 127,190 Instagram hashtags about the craft were posted each month last year.

Darkroom photography also received an average of 3,000 Google searches each month, along with 297,560 TikTok hashtag views. There were also an average of 19 videos published on YouTube in the same time period. Viewers can watch the videos to see how photographs are processed in a darkroom.

A spokesperson for Design Bundles commented on the research, “Each of these crafts is rich in skill and culture so it is very exciting to see them being moved to the ‘viable crafts’ category. It shows that the time, effort and funding put into making sure these crafts can be passed along to future generations is paying off. It is also wonderful to see the prevalence of each craft across social media as this potentially increases awareness to new generations and hopefully encourages continued preservation.”

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