The holidays are over and another new year is almost here. But that doesn’t mean that the holidays can’t live on even into 2014. The latest episode of PBS’ series Craft in America will allow anyone to keep the holidays going into the new year. It does so first and foremost in that it uses the social sciences to prove once more why arts and crafts are more than just arts and crafts. Audiences will also appreciate in this latest episode of Craft in America that it shows arts and crafts can include food as well as carvings, paintings, and other elements. Lastly, audiences will find interesting that this episode actually starts out by examining specific arts and crafts of Christmas and ends up in Halloween. This is in direct contrast to the DVD’s release date. This was pretty smart in its own way. It is the final touch on another enjoyable addition to one of PBS’ more underrated series.
The latest episode of PBS’ Craft in America is another enjoyable piece from what is one of the network’s most underrated series. It is so enjoyable first and foremost in that it uses the social sciences to prove once more why arts and crafts are more than just arts and crafts even during the holiday season. Over the course of its near hour-long run time, viewers are taken to the mountains of North Carolina to examine the centuries old tradition of carving figurines and the not so old but just as interesting tradition of gingerbread sculpting. Yes, gingerbread sculpting. And to close out the program, audiences are taken into one Hispanic family’s home to see how the family makes a piece out of clay that honors the family’s dearly departed. Throughout the course of each segment viewers learn how each craft is not just a craft, but part of the much deeper and richer culture of each group featured. Viewers will learn in the first segment that the tradition of sculpting wood figurines goes back to one group of Europeans, and that said group even had its own take on Santa Claus. The tradition of sculpting gingerbread is much more recent. But it is still incredible nonetheless that so many generations have taken to the tradition, and the many ways in which it can be used in the art world. The final segment in the program presents a part of the festivities surrounding the Hispanic Day of the Dead festivities that otherwise might not have been known about by most audiences. The process of sculpting and designing the “tree” is an eye-opener. Again, it is part of the culture of those that celebrate el dia de los muertos. The three segments by themselves teach interesting lessons about different cultures. Collectively, they show that arts and crafts are more than just arts and crafts. They are part of something much bigger and richer.
Audiences learn in the second segment how a more recent tradition involves the use of food for arts and crafts. In the final segment, audiences are presented with a much more subtle cultural aspect in the celebration of the Day of the Dead. That more subtle aspect is the cooking of tamales. It presents the real manner in which tamales are made. Many audiences may not know it, but real tamales are cooked inside a dried corn husk. And they are made with some spicy meat that is mixed into hand-made dough. These inclusions in the program are important because they go to show that craft doesn’t always have to involve just stereotypical items. Craft can include food, too. It makes one interested to see if PBS would *ahem* craft an episode of the series dedicated to food as craft.
The different crafts and their associated cultures are the heart of this episode of Craft in America. They aren’t all to be taken into consideration in examining what makes this episode work. The program’s overall makeup should be taken into consideration, too. As audiences will see, this episode starts out at Christmas and eventually works its way back to Halloween, or rather the Day of the Dead. This is in direct contrast to the DVDs release next Tuesday, December 31st. This is actually a good thing. It’s good because it keeps Christmas in the front of viewers’ minds since it was the most recent. By working backward, audiences get to take in the full holiday season even as the year ends. Who wouldn’t want to enjoy the holidays once more even at the end of one year and the birth of another even if it is only on DVD? It’s the final touch on what is another completely enjoyable episode of Craft in America. The DVD can be ordered online direct from the PBS store at http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=29393146&cp=2809871.3854896&sr=1&origkw=Craft+in+America&parentPage=family. More information on this and other programming from PBS is available online at http://www.facebook.com/pbs and http://www.pbs.org. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.