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Rare Trades

Making things by hand in the digital age

Front cover unit of work

Curriculum areas: Arts, Australian history

Years: 5–9

Key curriculum links: SOSE (Studies of Society and the Environment): Investigation, Communication and Participation; Time Continuity and Change

Rare Trades: Making Things by Hand in the Digital Age was an exhibition developed and presented by the National Museum of Australia. It celebrated the art of skilled manual work and ancient trades, their special tools, traditions, languages and secrets which are now threatened by the onslaught of technological change.

The list of traders includes a glass eyeball maker, haystack builder, craypot maker and wheelwright. There's also a horse collar maker, milliner and bladesmith among many others, who explain their motivations for mastering their trades.

In this resource, students explore themes including transformation, tools, passing on knowledge, the maker's mark and the changing nature of work. The kit contains a range of classroom activities and 24 fact files about each of the trades represented in the exhibition. They provide background information and may be used as a starting point for student research.