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Thinking through craft and the digital turn has developed organically out of the everyday experience of practitioners at OCAD University (OCAD U) in Material Art & Design (MAAD), a department that is rooted in craft processes and materiality. It is a project that has resonated throughout the academic craft community and has been embraced by colleagues at other institutions such as Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Alberta University of the Arts, NSCAD University and Sheridan College. Questions regularly arise about what is produced in our studios and whether it can be called craft when one is working with digital tools that appear to produce objects autonomously instead of through embodied making. There is both productive resistance along with whole-hearted adoption of digital technologies amongst our communities.

The title of the project is an homage to the various ‘thinking through’ texts that have helped to theorize research-creation endeavours—Thinking through Art, Thinking through Craft and Thinking through Fashion (Holdridge and Macleod 2006; Adamson 2007; Rocamora and Smelik 2015) to name a few. The notion here is that we can learn through a discipline rather than impose or appropriate theory. It is a reminder of a central contention that we are using to support this research—we are embodied learners and the theory we are both using and developing is specific to the work we do in the studio using craft methodology, which is a primary engagement with materials, processes, tools and technology. We often engage with other methodologies, such as art, architecture, design but our discipline has its own history and trajectory that guide this particular endeavour.




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Heller, L, and D. Millerson. Craft, Pedagogy and the Digital Challenge—A Jewelry Perspective. Digital Meets Handmade: Jewelry in the 21st Century, Fashion Institute of Technology, USA, 2018


Heller, L. “One for Sorrow: A Handmade Virtual Reality Experience.” Contemporary Paths: Realities of Art, Science and Technology, edited by Pablo Gobira, State University of Minas Gerais, 2018.
Heller, L, and Dorie Millerson. “Craft Pedagogy in Precarious Times,” 2021. https://vimeo.com/627907417.
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