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Origami crane
Children's artwork from scraps of paper
A polar bear made of pearls

Handicrafts are a manual activity in which artistic objects are made from often relevant materials. In German-speaking countries, handicrafts are used as a didactic concept in early education, B. in the context of handicraft and textile lessons . Internationally, on the other hand - for example in Japan or as Arts and Crafts in North America - it is often seen as a demanding artistic hobby to which adults also devote themselves to a high level.

The production of three-dimensional handicraft objects is also useful for other areas of learning. So z. B. the geometry didactic Siegfried Krauter the thesis: “Who z. B. treated the pyramid in school and not let every student build at least a real model, has missed his job as a math teacher! "


“Handicrafts” is an umbrella term for creative hobbies that are carried out experimentally. Tinkerers often set up their own room, e.g. B. in the basement of the house as a workshop or hobby room to be able to pursue this activity undisturbed, without having to worry about valuable furnishings.

Crafting is a valuable learning tool as it helps learners understand and use geometric structures. Craft skills can be learned through handicrafts, and the “ play instinct ” (ie the desire to playfully deal with materials) is encouraged.

Handicrafts differ from commercial or " do-it-yourself " handicrafts in that the activity of manufacturing already fulfills the purpose of the activity (mostly to have fun), not the later possession of the manufactured item or its use for any client or Viewer. For the development of children, handicrafts are very important, since the tactile understanding of the environment and manual skills in general are important, but underdevelopments in later phases of life can only be compensated with difficulty. Some museums also offer handicraft afternoons for families in the area of ​​museum education.


The materials can be completely different: pearls, fabrics, polystyrene , clay pots, flute cleaner, waste paper, artificial fur, leather cords, plaster of paris, Plexiglas , glass , wood , metal , paper , cardboard or stone ; but there are also many hobbyists who objects from bottle caps , beer mats or matchsticks and produce even more. The basic materials for handicrafts can often be found in hardware stores or in special handicraft shops. Some mail-order companies have also specialized in the distribution of handicraft materials.

Crafts for children

Handicrafts in kindergarten , 1982

By doing handicrafts, children learn to trust their own creativity, discover their own abilities, develop different ways of expression, language skills and mathematical skills. A wide variety of materials can be used. You can make different things with all kinds of things. Handicrafts with lost and found items, e.g. B. Food, recycling material, sand, stones, bark. Handicrafts with natural materials in the outdoor area are called natural art or "land art". It makes sense to let the creativity run free according to the season. At the beginning of spring, funny clowns, happy beetles and lively bees decorate the table and spring bouquet. In summer you can make summer caps, garlands for parties, windmills, etc. In autumn there are many natural materials such as chestnuts that can be used to make hedgehogs and squirrels. In winter, stars and Christmas balls decorate the Christmas tree. Many craft ideas are simple, amazing, and easy to replicate.

Overview of creative handicrafts

Handicraft group with traditional spinning wheels , 1988

In the past, handicrafts ( knitting , crocheting , sewing ) and handicrafts (carving, matchstick and crown cap work) belonged to the gender-dependent handicraft work, today's handicrafts are less and less related to a specific gender. In recent times handicrafts have also included special techniques such as decoupage technique, window color, clay pot figures, Scoubidou, greeting cards, friendship bracelets, pearl animals.

For the napkin technique, objects are decorated with the top napkin layer (the print layer) and connected to the surface with clear varnish. Window-Color describes classic window paints that are sold in small plastic bottles - first a border line is set, then the motif is filled in with a fill color. With the new window paints, removable, reusable window pictures can be created. Clay pot figures are made from the fired clay pots that are otherwise used in gardening. A combination of handicrafts with an artistic touch can also be found at Mobiles . This also applies to the creative design of dream catchers . With the Japanese paper folding technique origami , even complicated objects can be designed from a piece of paper. One is less free in cardboard model making (or model building sheets), where one can only recreate given models.

Scoubidous are key rings made from plastic straps; they are made using a special braiding technique. Friendship bracelets are woven from sewing thread and given away to friends - with a little skill, names and shapes can be woven in. Pearl animals are made from pearls and wire or plastic thread - by threading the pearls in precise order, 3D objects such as a raven, a turtle or Santa Clauses are created. Tinkering with materials from nature is also possible. When tinkering with chestnuts z. B. Raw materials ( seeds of the horse chestnut tree ) from nature are used and combined with everyday objects (strings, matches, etc.). In addition to the production of clay vessels ( pottery ), materials such as FIMO offer new possibilities. The production of fantasy and animal figures is easy thanks to the pre-colored materials; a kiln is no longer necessary.

In Asia, elaborate handicrafts are made from paper that are burned as part of the hell money sacrifice.

Craft techniques

Depending on the age, the categories that - but especially for boys - reflected the current high-tech trends in the game were always popular . It began with metal construction sets and anchor stone construction sets as well as model steam engines , later it went on to plastic components (e.g. Lego or fischertechnik ) and model railways . Today one is in accordance with the technical development in electronic handicrafts and handicrafts around the computer - z. B. case modding and car tuning - arrived; But software creation ( programming ) can also be counted in the broadest sense. A group of these hobbyists are called makers . Model building and the construction of model systems as a hobby play a smaller role today than in the past. Particularly good offers among commercially available construction kits have always allowed creativity a wide freedom and did not restrict the user too much to the reproduction of a certain object.


  • Panagiotis Loudrias: Design as Bricolage - Anthropology Meets Design Thinking , Published in Design Studies Vol 20, October 1999 pp. 517-535
  • Martin Herzog: La Dialectique du Bricolage , In: Handicrafts, Tinkering, Improvising .... , May 11, 2007, online at brainworker.ch
  • Franz Liebl: Unknown theoretical objects in trend research (XLII): The hobbyist as an interface between cultural studies, sociology and marketing
  • Iris Kohlhoff-Kahl: Manual work makes you smart. About working and handicrafts and wildly “thinking” hands

Web links

Wiktionary: tinker  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
  • Lutz Schäfer / Thomas Heyl: The didactics of handicrafts . BDK Mitteilungen (trade journal of the BDK - Association for Art Education) 1/2016

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Siegfried Krauter: Contributions to the methodology and didactics of geometry lessons in secondary level 1 (grades 5 to 10) . Ludwigsburg University of Education . P. 68