A new study by the creative resource website Design Bundles has revealed that macramé is the most popular craft to have been saved from extinction after its popularity flourished on social media over the past year.
The research team at Design Bundles analyzed factors relating to online popularity for the eight crafts that have been added to the Heritage Crafts Association’s ‘currently viable crafts’ list this year. These are:
- Candle making
- Islamic calligraphy
- Bead working
- Corset making
- Darkroom photography
The Heritage Crafts Association places crafts into one of four categories based on how likely the traditional craft skills are to survive by being passed down to the next generation of craftspeople. They have a red list of endangered crafts in the UK as well as a list of traditional crafts that are extinct and crafts that are safe. The four categories are:
- Extinct crafts: for crafts with no practitioners left.
- Critically endangered crafts: for crafts with very few practitioners left, but some who are still working in the field.
- Endangered crafts: for crafts that have sufficient craftspeople to transmit the craft skills to the next generation, but for which there are serious concerns about their ongoing viability.
- Currently viable crafts: for crafts that are in a healthy state and have plenty of practitioners to pass on the skills to the next generation.
The researchers at Design Bundles then analyzed how many Google searches, YouTube videos, and TikTok and Instagram hashtags each craft had globally per month for the past year.
They then created a 10-point scale to calculate rankings for each factor, with the best score receiving 10 points, and the following crafts scored relative to the top value. The average scores were calculated across the factors, revealing overall rankings with higher scores being more preferable.
The ancient knotting technique known as macramé came out on top. It scored the highest out of all the craft projects for Google searches, the number of Instagram hashtags, and the number of YouTube videos. Macramé dates back thousands of years, with the earliest known use going back to the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians who used macramé to pattern their clothes.
On average, macramé is searched on Google 432,000 times a month globally, which is nearly 380,000 times more than the second-ranking craft. It also proved to be the most Instagrammable of the crafts with 8.6 million hashtags in total on the platform, which is nearly seven million more than the next craft. In the past year, there have been 9,587 YouTube videos uploaded specifically relevant to macramé. It scored the second-highest of the crafts for TikTok hashtags with the number of views totaling 683.3 million.
In second place on the list is candle making, which has the highest coverage on TikTok of all the eight crafts with 1.3 billion views in total. Candle making is the second most Googled on the list, with an average of 54,000 Google searches per month. It also ranks second for the number of YouTube videos, with the hashtag being used on 2,962 YouTube videos in the past year. Hashtags referring to candle making on Instagram total 1,518,900.
Candle-making dates back to the ancient Greeks. Over history, the materials used to make candles have included all manner of animal products including some derived from fish, yak, whale, and of course, beeswax.
In third place is bead working. Despite it being the least Googled craft of the eight, it proved to be very popular across social media. Bead working ranks third for TikTok views, with 137.4 million altogether, and third for Instagram hashtags, with 1.63 million. It also came third in the number of YouTube videos uploaded, with 793.
Bead working covers many different techniques used to string beads together to create items such as art and jewelry. Archaeologists have carbon-dated ancient beadwork that used shells and straw to over 10,000 years ago in Africa. It truly is one of the most ancient crafts still in existence today.
Following on from bead working is lapidary in fourth. Lapidary relates to methods of engraving, cutting and shaping precious stones for use in areas such as jewelry or the creation of decorative items and ornaments.
On average lapidary is Googled 26,000 times per month. It has received 40.8 million views on TikTok and 1.62 million hashtags on Instagram. In the past year, 327 YouTube videos have been uploaded using the hashtag lapidary.
Lapidary is one of the most fundamental craft skills and dates back to the Stone Age when it would have been one of the earliest forms of craftwork for proto-humans. Surviving stone tablets from over 3,000 years ago suggest a highly advanced use of lapidary for art and documentation purposes.
The fifth spot is taken by Islamic calligraphy which receives an average of 17,000 Google searches per month. It ranks fifth for the number of TikTok views with 13.4 million views for the top two relevant hashtags. Islamic calligraphy is the practice of artistic handwriting in languages with Islamic heritage. The art form has been hashtagged 535,500 times on Instagram, and 345 times on YouTube videos.
In sixth is Intaglio, a method of printmaking where an image is cut into a printing plate and replicated using ink. On TikTok, the craft received nearly 11 million hashtag views. It is the third most Googled craft on the list, receiving an average of 27,000 searches per month globally. It has been hashtagged 320,000 times on Instagram and 191 times on YouTube videos.
In seventh place is the art of corset making, which scored the lowest out of all the crafts for the number of Instagram hashtags with 86,800, and the second-lowest for Google searches, with 350 per month, and for YouTube videos, with 31 videos containing a relevant hashtag. It did, however, rank fourth for TikTok hashtag views, receiving 32.9 million views.
Last on the list is darkroom photography, in eighth place. Darkroom photography is the traditional method of printing photographs, whereby a red light is used in a completely dark room to preserve the light-sensitive photography film used. On average, darkroom photography is Googled 3,000 times per month. In the last year, it has received 297,000 hashtag views on TikTok and 127,190 hashtags on Instagram. On YouTube, the relevant hashtag has been used on 19 videos uploaded in the past year.
Commenting on the research, a spokesperson for Design Bundles said, “Each of these crafts is rich in skill and culture so it is very exciting to see them being moved to the ‘viable crafts’ category. It shows that the time, effort and funding put into making sure these crafts can be passed along to future generations is paying off. It is also wonderful to see the prevalence of each craft across social media as this potentially increases awareness to new generations and hopefully encourages continued preservation.”
‘Currently viable’ crafts online performance
|Index ScoreRank||Craft||Number of Google Searches (Globally)||TikTok Hashtag Views||Instagram Hashtags||Number of YouTube Videos (Past year)|
Source – Design Bundles
The analysis in this article was carried out by Design Bundles which offers high-quality premium design resources and a marketplace that allows graphic designers to register and sell their products.