This book is not intended to take the place or lessen the need of a thorough training in design and craftsmanship, such as is obtainable at the Art Schools, but it is hoped that it may gain recruits from those who know not the joy of fashioning with their hands objects of usefulness which are also things of beauty.
The author has endeavoured to show how certain crafts may be done quietly in the home by mother or daughter, in town or country, as a relaxation, and to drive away the dreariness that comes from a lack of congenial occupations, or as a means of earning money.
It has been found in the Public Schools that teaching handicrafts has been of immense value in the training of the child. Weaving in the little frames has been the means of teaching perseverance, patience, and self-control; and if this is so with young children, it stands to reason that the same qualities will be strengthened in those of riper years. In charitable institutions the introduction of handicrafts is of inestimable value, and although it has been done to a very slight extent, the development of this idea cannot be too strongly urged. In homes for the aged the dreary hours spent in idleness could be made of value and comfort, and purpose might be brought into the lives of these old people, whose chief interest in life has left them because they feel themselves so useless. If they could be taught to make even such simple things as braided and crocheted rugs, the fact of being able to make these and give them to their friends would bring a new interest into their lives. The results of experiments made as to the effect of handicrafts on the feeble-minded or for nervous cases have been most encouraging, and tend to prove how beneficial work of this kind is to those, whether old or young, who are physically exhausted and mentally deficient.
There are some women that have so little in their lives that the pity of it is overwhelming. When the daily household duties have been attended to they are entirely without resource. In the winter they sit in a chair by the window with the shade almost down, peeping at the passer-by, and in the summer they rock for hours on the porch. They frequent the waiting - rooms of the railway station and large stores, merely to kill time, and to watch those around them. If a love for making useful things could be brought to such people their entire outlook would be changed, and life would become more full of meaning.
The life of a craft-worker gradually grows more and more sincere as the love for good honest workmanship develops the worker, and she becomes dissatisfied with the commonplace and is more in earnest in all she undertakes.
The author hopes that Handicrafts in the Home may be the means not only of helping those already interested, but also many who have not yet learned the joy of bringing the creative faculty into force; and while no attempt has been made to deal with all the crafts, or those that entail an expensive outfit, still enough perhaps has been given to point the way to enable a beginner to find her latent talents, which may be further developed either by attending classes or by studying some of the excellent books on special crafts which have already been published.