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Pushing the limits of craft

Research project The project aim to explore what possibilities, but also what challenges exist in the meeting between traditional craft and digital design, between hi-tech and low-tech. Areas of interest are traditional and cultural woodcrafting techniques, as well as contemporary manufacturing.

The tradition of sloyd is an artifact that emerges from an intuitive work between the creator and the material, a kind of "tacit knowledge." The project takes interest in the potential role and significance of digital tools in craft practice, both in terms of new aesthetic possibilities and how the creative use of these tools challenges the concept of the "handmade."

Head of project

Sara Rylander
Associate professor

Project overview

Project period:

2023-01-01 2023-12-31

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Creative Studies, UmArts, Umeå Institute of Design

Research area


Project description

As a sloyd teacher educator, my goal is to develop students' practical knowledge and ability to solve practical problems through knowledge of various work processes. Sloyd can be considered a system of craft education and is taught as a compulsory subject in Finnish, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian schools. In this regard, it is easy to argue that sloyd is specific to the Nordic countries and thus a cultural heritage. The term "sloyd" encompasses specific materials and techniques as well as culture and tradition. There are specific techniques, particular materials, and typical artifacts associated with sloyd. The potential loss of this cultural identity is both imminent and preventable.

As a method, I will incorporate the laser cutter into the process of traditional and cultural craft. My aim is to explore how this influences the selection and expression of artifacts, materials, and techniques related to craft and sloyd in particular. I will be using autoethnography as a theoretical framework for reflecting on personal experiences in the context of ethnographic field work and writing. (Maréchal 2010)

Latest update: 2023-03-16