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Arts & Crafts

Arts & Crafts/Handicrafts

General Appearance, Impact, Color

• Article is neat, clean, tidy, free from markings.

• Dimensions are accurate.

• Frame suits design and technique.

• Borders are equal on sides and top, wider on bottom edge.

• Fabrics are on grain.

• Article is ready to use.

• Materials, time and money spent in making article is justified by its beauty, usefulness and durability.

• Colors look attractive together and suit design and use of the article. Up-to-date styles and new products are encouraged.

Creative Design

• Size and shape suits use of the article. Materials chosen are appropriate for its use. Design principles are satisfied:

• Balance - both sides of the design have equal visual weight. Large/bright object close to centre balances smaller/duller object further from the centre. Heaviest objects are near the bottom.

• Rhythm - repetition of shapes or colors draws eye around whole object.

• Harmony - all aspects (line, shape, color, size, texture, idea) go together.

• Proportion - size of parts of design are in proportion to the whole object and each other. Design is not divided exactly in 1/2 or 1/3.

• Emphasis - focal point of design gives eye a place to stop.


• Has the article been crafted using reasonable standards of quality workmanship? Does the quality of work affect the appearance and/or usefulness of the article?

Design Elements and Principles

Although no two crafts are exactly alike, they do have design elements and principles. These elements are the basic standards to be used when working with any of the various craft mediums. Consider them when judging arts and crafts exhibits.

Structural Design is the basic shape of the article that provides length, width, height, depth, or thickness. When the original shape has surface enrichment, it is called decorative design.

Simple objects often have beauty of shape, color or texture and need no extra decoration. When decorative design is used, it should appear to be a part of the original structure and should strengthen the design.

Scale is important. Tiny things used with big objects seem smaller and vice-versa. Also, a pattern or design should fit the item on which it is used.

Lines can be used to create impression. Eyes move along the lines of the object – across on a restful horizontal line, upward on a vertical line, across on a diagonal line, or around and over on a curved line. Straight lines are stiff and severe. Gently flowing curved lines are graceful and beautiful.

Emphasis indicates the focal point of the object. It attracts the eye first to the center of interest and then to the other elements of the design. Uneven number of objects (3,5, etc.) are often more interesting than even numbers of items placed together.

Design should be functional – not too cute, not too obvious, not too real and shouldn’t interfere with the usefulness of the object. Any ornamentation applied after the object is made should follow the lines of the object and not get in the way of its use.

Harmony results when there is enough repetition to be pleasant and enough variety to prevent monotony. The design “belongs together” – it is a consistent, orderly, and pleasing arrangement of all parts to create a whole. Proportion, balance, rhythm, emphasis and color should be used to create this unity. There is harmony of shape when similar shapes are used; there is harmony of color when enough colors of the right amounts are used.

Space may be occupied or used for a purpose. Space can be crowded, well filled, or sparsely filled. Not every space needs to be filled – the eye needs plenty of open space around objects or designs. The shape and size of empty spaces is as important as the filled space.

Texture is the surface of a material that can be seen or felt. It is divided into three categories: fine, medium and coarse. Like textures go together well. Coarse textures may be combined with medium textures but not with fine. Fine textures may be used with medium.

A pleasant balance of hues, values, and intensities will result in color harmony. It means a good proportion of light to dark, bright to dull, and warm to cool to give balance to the color. One color dominates the design but also gives background space.

Balance presents an impression of equal distribution of weight in an arrangement. Formal balance is the placement of objects of the same size and color at equal distances from the central point. Informal balance uses unlike objects with the larger or heavier object placed nearer the center. Balance from top to bottom is also important. Designs that have considerable weight toward the top and little or no weight at the bottom appear top heavy.

Rhythm is related to movement. It creates a path for your eye to follow. Rhythm may be created by a repetition of spaces, a progression of sizes, continuous line movement or radiation from a central point.

Proportion deals with the relationship of each part to each other and to the whole. The square, with its equal proportions, is uninteresting, and a rectangle too narrow for its length seems thin. A standard space relationship, often used for rectangular flat surfaces, is to use two units on one side and three units on the other. Either a 2:3 or 3:5 ratio is acceptable.

Workmanship For Various Media


Legibility most important. Letters slant uniformly. Letters even in size and in most cases, width. Sides of letters straight and parallel to each other. Letters sit on the lines.


Painting accurate, attractive. Brush marks do not show. Decals undamaged, no ridges on edges. Seam lines removed. Glazed completely and evenly. Glaze free from bubbles, cracks, crazing, pitting, lumps on bottom.


(broomstick, hairpin and bobbin lace)

Even tension and stitch size. No holes or mistakes. Yarns joined at seam edges only. Yarn ends worked in. Edges do not ripple. Edging in proportion to overall size of garment. Trims neatly, securely attached. Blocked neatly, not over-pressed. Elasticity of cast-on and cast-off knitting stitches. Seams flat, not bulky. Seams do not bulge or pull. Fronts and shoulders stabilized, if necessary.

Fair Isle Knitting: Two or more colors used together with yarns carried over no more than three stitches before securing.

Machine Knitting: complexity of pattern.

Tatting: rings even, picots uniform, new threads joined with square knots.

Terveriffe - (needlemade lace) geometric, units usually circular, overhand knots, radiating lines from central point ie.; "spoke-like".

Filet Crochet openwork mesh of chains and doubles, fill in chain space with doubles to create solid blocks. Lace-like.


Glued picture(s) onto a background and finished with layers of varnish - print suitable to size of article. No ripples or bubbles in print. Varnish smooth, even, no bubbles or drips. Modge Podge similar but fabric strips used to cover an article (often plastic or paper mache base). Varnish to finish.


Silk Painting - Gutta Method: large areas and background have no rings or lines. Dyes restrained by gutta. Attractive shading. Gutta removed completely. Batik: cracking does not obscure design. Free from accidental drips. Tie-Dye: symmetry of design, visible fold



Neat, even hand stitches (except for special effects in creative stitchery). Ends securely fastened or worked in back of stitches. Transfer marks not visible. Chicken-Scratch: Circular stitches do not go through fabric; yarn is not carried behind white gingham

squares. Background fabric not puckered from too tight stitches. Threads cut invisibly in cutwork areas. Accuracy in keeping to design important, especially in counted thread, hardanger, etc.

Arts and Crafts 4


Heavy soft thread evenness of french knots, backstitch, outline and satin stitches.

Crewel: variety of stitches with crewel wool on linen fabric. Yarns may be cut and brushed.


Drawn thread embroidery, usually white cotton, linen, silk thread on white fabric. Blocks of parallel satin stitches, worked closely over 4 threads of fabric, right angle turns - stitch in common hole in corner - basic outlines composed of right angled designs. Interior threads are closely cut to satin stitches. Accuracy very important.


Must hold shape when used. Construction sturdy, durable. Trims, decorations, lids and handles, if used, are attached securely. Symmetrical. Lids fit. No glue visible.


Mechanics of arrangement hidden. Unblemished flowers and foliage. Table centrepieces low enough to see over. Accessories do not dominate arrangement.


Accurately sewn. Handles securely attached. Lining, if used, attached securely. Usable size and shape.


Potholders, appliance covers, etc. Durable fabric. Potholders padded adequately to be safe, usable and washable. Trims securely attached. Stitching straight and secure.


Lacing even. Ends worked in. Bevelled edges preferred where two sides joined together. Accuracy in carving or tooling design.


Accuracy in sewing design. Thread ends finished off. Tension adjusted so stitches look smooth on top. Stitches even. Background not puckered. Shading attractive, carefully done. Use of stabilizer fabric (ie. stitch and tear) acceptable.


Even tension. Straight horizontal and diagonal lines. Firm edges. Even loops. Ends worked in invisibly, securely. End of work knotted before making tassels.


Stitches done on canvas-like fabric. Denelope canvas is woven with pairs of thread running vertically and horizontally. Mono canvas woven so 1 thread equals 1 mesh. Two types of mono canvas: Regular - junctions are unstable. Interlock - the junction of mesh is secured with tiny thread wrapped around mesh. Mesh count equals stitch size.

Petitpoint - mono canvas size 18-40, stitches all 1 way, background not filled.

Bargello - straight vertical stitches, mono canvas. Stitches may cross one or several threads. Overall zigzag like pattern is formed.

Needlepoint - mono canvas 8-14 count - stitches all one way, usually a wool yarn, background filled in as well.

Cross-stitch - aida fabric/canvas - 8-32 count. All top threads travel the same direction, background fabric compliments the design. Watch for: even thickness of thread, no visible wearing or fuzziness of thread, smooth surface, canvas not showing, no shadowing of darker threads through light. Blocked and matted straight.


Skilful use of media and tools. Perspective accurate. Shading gentle. Good contrast between lights and darks. Appropriately framed. Oils never under glass. No accidental spots of paint.


Fabric stretched smoothly. Trims not overpowering. Clips on curves and gluing not visible. Corners not bulky.


Even thickness of walls. Thrown are usually symmetrical. Stability important, especially for tall pots, lips and edges uniform and smooth. Lids fit. Handles straight, usable size, attached securely. No fingerprints. No cracks. Glaze even, no bumps, bubbles, crazing,


RIBBON EMBROIDERY: Adds dimensional effect, common designs; flowers, butterflies, silk ribbon will not stand-up to wear, ideal for wall hangings, pictures, boxes, etc. Stitches wrapped, whipped, knotted and braided stitches are more durable and suited to clothing. Loop and plume stitches are delicate - better for pictures. Consider color and tones, types of fabric - Victorian when used with velvets, satins, taffetas. Use of trims and variety of threads i.e. silk, metallic or variegated add to effect. Polyester ribbon is available for use on garments.


Must be flat. Edges must not ripple. Latchet Hooked: Loops same height unless varied for emphasis. Binding or taping edges recommended. Punch hooked backgrounds follow

design outline. Ends pulled to top and trimmed to pile height.

Backing not visible when lying flat.

Braided: Even braiding. Joining stitches secure. Ends worked in.


Depth of pleats even. Tension of threads even. Even stitch length. Thread ends fastened.


Structurally sound, no cracks. Pieces fit together tightly. Soldering even width with few bumps. Copper foil tape applied so same amount shows on both sides of glass. Beading around edges smooth and rounded. Boxes square with well-leaded hinges. Lids open

smoothly. Lamps wired safely.


Smooth, clean edges. Paint has not run under stencil. Accurate placing of stencil or screen. Shading skilful.


Includes fabric paints, glitter, shiny, puff, metallics and liquid embroidery. Fabric color often integral part of design. Fabric should not appear scrubbed. Free from streaks, blobs, missed parts, mistakes. Edges smooth. Shading gradual. Stamped pattern not visible. Squeeze-on paint lines smooth and joined invisibly.


Brush marks do not show. Skill in painting. No bubbles, hairs, or bumps. Smoothly sanded background. Skilful shading. Control of brush in accuracy of lines, shapes. Traced lines don't dent wood. Textured paint, trims and accessories often used to produce a certain effect i.e. country, Victorian stains, washes and pickling; all techniques which impact on overall project - soften, age or antique.


Safety most important for children's toys - no buttons, wires, pipe cleaners. Ends of threads secured. Pile runs same way on both sides. Fur pile pulled out of seams. Firmly stuffed into all corners. Soft sculpture shows character. Mobiles balance correctly. Bright colors important for baby items.


Dimensions even. Firm, straight selvages. Even tension. Yarn ends worked in. No mistakes. Balanced warp and weft. Even beating of wefts. Seams suitably finished, not bulky.


Undamaged heads. Symmetry. Joins invisible. Trims complement weaving and are securely attached. Braiding even. Straws not flattened. Matching color and size of straws and heads. Uniform sides.


Smooth. Free from brush marks, hairs, lumps, bubbles, dust particles. Previous finish completely removed. Driftwood well cleaned. New wood finished, if necessary, before finish applied. New wood filled, if necessary. Screws and nails countersunk and filled.

Construction sturdy.

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