Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Lisa King

Committee Members

Sean Morey, Russel Hirst


Simple handmade objects have important stories to tell about the hands that made them and the environments they pass through. This project observes the thinking, materials, and process involved in craft work through the lens of materiality. I wrestle with materiality by presenting a personal making project, in front of L.C. King Mfg. Co., a Tennessee workwear company that maintains century-old manufacturing practices and values. With the interactive – and interdisciplinary – perspective of cultural rhetoric as the guiding theoretical framework, this display of both freshly created (the leather bag project) and progressively experienced (the chore coat) material realities aims to bring readers into the lived materiality of the craftsman. These displays of textual analysis provide valuable insight into materiality as it relates to the objects around us, DIY (do-it-yourself) culture and its implications for deep appreciation for artisanal-quality goods, maker identities and how they become sewn into the work they do, how value is determined based on individual values, and how current digital channels continue to reshape how craftspeople approach circulating their work. Additionally, this project aims to provoke deep thought into what makes an object ‘handmade,’ and the importance of slowing down to recognize these attributes in a culture that generally flattens the genuine efforts of craftspeople and the value ascribed to these efforts. All of these pieces join together – personal making, characteristics of inherent quality, and lived material existences – to form a maker’s rhetorically guided definition of materiality.

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Figure 1

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Figure 12

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