A handicraft, sometimes more precisely expressed as artisanal handicraft or handmade, is any of a wide variety of types of work where useful and decorative objects are made completely by hand or using only simple tools. It is a traditional main sector of craft, and applies to a wide range of creative and design activities that are related to making things with one’s hands and skill, including work with brass, wood, copper, ceramics, metal sheet, bone, glass, shell, textile, moldable and rigid materials, paper, bamboo, plant fibers, etc. Most of the crafts require the development of skills that is acquired over a long period of time, sometimes even years and decades, with lot of persistence and perseverance.
Handcrafting has its roots in the rural countryside—the material-goods necessities—of ancient civilizations, and many specific crafts have been practiced for centuries, while others are modern inventions, or popularizations of crafts which were originally practiced in a limited geographic area. One of the world’s oldest handicrafts is Dhokra; this is a sort of metal casting that has been used in India for over 4,000 years and is still used.
Handicraft Industries are units that produce things with hands and primitive tools to meet the needs of people in the locality without the use of machines. Usually, the created items, whether for personal use or for sale as products, are both practical and aesthetic. As the job in handicraft is manual, the final product is a direct result of the personal skills and craftsmanship of the artisan.
Many handcrafters use natural, even entirely indigenous, materials while others may prefer modern, non-traditional materials, and even upcycle industrial materials. The individual artisanship of a handcrafted item is the paramount criterion; those made by mass production or machines are not handicraft goods.
Seen as developing the skills and creative interests of students, generally and sometimes towards a particular craft or trade, handicrafts are also being integrated into educational systems, both informally and formally. Many community centers and schools run evening or day classes and workshops, for adults and children, offering to teach basic craft skills in a short period of time.
Like folk art, handicraft output often has cultural and/or religious significance. While many crafts become very popular for brief periods of time (a few months, or a few years), spreading rapidly among the crafting population as everyone emulates the first examples, many a times, their popularity wanes until a later resurgence.
Handcrafting as an art is as old as the human life, and there are almost as many variations on the theme of handicrafts as there are crafters with time on their hand.