Not since the 1970's have we seen such enthusiasm for art & craft. Despite, or maybe because of the digital revolution, more and more people want to learn practical skills and experience the satisfaction and pleasure of making.
This increase isn't confined to one niche area, everything from knitting, baking, jewellery-making, darkroom practice, painting, printmaking, carving, dress-making, upholstery, ceramics and life-drawing have surged in popularity.
The internet has also helped, especially with domestic arts:
A wonderful thing about learning a creative process: it gives you the skills and appetite to learn more. And sometimes, (as in the case of drawing), it underpins so many other processes that it alters your perception forever.
All this making isn't just good for the soul, its good for the economy too, the creative industries are worth £80 billion per year in the U.K. This sector grew by 10% in 2012, outperforming all the others. Many experts agree this figure has the potential to be much larger, particularly for export business.
Strangely, there's been a decline in art & craft education across all age groups. The Crafts Council has observed
this in 'disciplines that require space, teaching expertise and pricey equipment or materials'.
Funding for adults has been cut drastically and many art colleges and universities ditched their equipment in favour of conceptual training rather than process, (this had quite an interesting backlash in the form of students demanding life-drawing classes, many of which are now re-instated).
In a recession the arts are the first to be kicked to the kerb, with the result that there are less opportunities to learn life-enhancing skills - unless you're rich.
Worryingly, this may not be just about the arts. Some U.S educators have recently expressed fears that putting Mammon first will mean that only wealthy students will go to university; everyone else will be educated by computer.
When its gone its gone
A lot of specialist equipment used in making things is irreplaceable. This is particularly the case when the process, (printmaking, sewing, chemical photographic), doesn't change over time. Unlike digital equipment that changes constantly and is therefore expensive to run, traditional machines don't need updating, but they do need skilled people to teach their use.
Arguably, there are some skills that have already been lost because they weren't passed down or invested in. Even in this financial climate, skills gaps have been reported by employers; examples are artworkers, (print production specialists), pattern cutters, carpenters, model makers and textile technologists.
There is a limit to how much you can lean from YouTube.