Workmanship of Risk and Workmanship of Certainty. According to Edward Luci-Smith, craft has endured three stages throughout history. In the first stage, craft endured a period where all objects were created purely by hand. The emphasis was on craft and it mattered not whether the object crafted was decorative, ritual or purely utilitarian. The second and third stages occurred from the Renaissance period onward and during the second stage, there was a marked distinction between fine arts and craft. This was primarily during the Renaissance period. By the time of the Industrial Revolution craft was distinguished from those objects handcrafted and those objects produced by machine. (Lucie-Smith, 1981, 83-85)
It was this last stage of craft that gave rise to Pye’s Workmanship of Risk and Workmanship of Certainty theories. With the advances in technology, craft took on a different dimension. A man could rely on his own skill to create an object or he could rely on the advances in technology to create objects with greater certainty that those objects would turn out the way they were designed.
Contemporary craft has evolved into a “high-quality, unique one-off art object and limited-quantity design work.” (Kikuchi, 2004, 235) Craft by definition requires specific knowledge and skill to a point where it reflects workmanship, function, and art. (Kikuchi, 2004, 236) To this end contemporary craft challenges the mass production of objects that are turned out automatically because of this kind of production:
In distinguishing between the workmanship of risk and the workmanship of certainty, Pye maintains that the latter is not possible without the former. (Pye, 1995,23) While the dynamics of workmanship of certainty permits mad to put out objects in mass quantities .with precision, the tools that make this possible were constructed by virtue of the workmanship of risk. (Pye, 1995, 23) This is perhaps one of the ways in which the workmanship of risk accounts for the hand-made object of contemporary craft practices.