In textiles as well as other material-designated disciplines, craft is understood not only as a way of making things by hand, but also as a way of thinking through the hand manipulating a material (Nimkulrat, 2010, p. 64). Craft is thus “a means for logically thinking through senses” (Nimkulrat, 2010, p. 75) This understanding follows the notion of craft as “a way of thinking through practices of all kinds” (Adamson, 2007, p. 7) and “a dynamic process of learning and understanding through material experience” (Gray & Burnett, 2009, p. 51). Hence, the process of making material objects by hand can be identified as one way of thinking intellectually (Sennett, 2008, pp. 149-153). Since the knowledge of craft, or how a material constructs an artifact, is not necessarily available in words or illustrations, practitioners are required to perform individual practices and observations while working with materials (Rowley, 1997). Similarly, design knowledge exists in designing activities, in which designers, their creation processes, and resulting artifacts are involved – it is considered a “designerly way of knowing” (Cross, 1982, 1999). Knowledge of a creative practice thus lies in and can be acquired from within the practice itself. In other words, thinking and knowing are inseparable from making in any craft or designerly practices.


Since the 1990s, creative disciplines including art, design, architecture, and performance have increasingly engaged with academic research. The practitioners’ creative practices are employed as vehicles of theoretical inquiry and subjects for scholarly research, which has often been labeled practice-led or practice-based research3 (Nimkulrat, 2009b, p. 484; Rust, 2007; Scrivener, 2009,4 p. 69). This approach encourages the inclusion of the researcher’s creative practice. Its main concept concerns the researcher who simultaneously takes the role of an artist or a designer and carries out the creative process and production of artifacts as the target of the reflection. According to Rust (2007, p. 75), for artists and designers to be considered researchers, they must prove the ownership of their research by: (1) indicating the research problem and its rationale; (2) demonstrating a good understanding of the research context; (3) acquiring research methods and consolidating them in an explicit way that is understandable by other researchers; and (4) verifying the results and contribution of their research. Unlike historians or philosophers, practitioners are in the position that enables the study of creative artifacts in progress. (Daichendt, 2012, p. 55). Gray and Malins (2004, p. 30) identify practice-based methodologies in art and design as involving “making art/design/creative work through specific project frameworks or as a body of work exploring the research questions”. According to Gray and Malins, social science methods can be adopted and adapted to supplement creative work. The methods include case study, participant-observation, interviews, questionnaires, and surveys for seeking the opinions of others (Gray & Malins, 2004, p. 30). However, the recent focus on practice-based or practice-led methodologies has shifted from the supplementary adopted or adapted social science methods or other fields of inquiry to the intellectual development of creative practice as a basis for theoretical questions and as a place for undertaking artistic, cultural, and scholarly studies (Sullivan, 2009, p. 62). The shifted emphasis on what could be called knowing in practice implies: Firstly, the implementation of methodologies operating from the “unknown to the known” rather than the “known to the unknown” in more established research methodologies (Sullivan, 2009, p. 48), and secondly, research processes involving data that are “created” rather than “collected” in traditional research (p. 50). The creation of artifacts thus comes into play as the “driving force behind the research” and also “the creator of ideas” (Mäkelä & Routarinne, 2009, p. 22). Within the practice-led methodological framework, practitioner-researchers address themselves to the challenge of theorizing their practice

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