Handicrafting has its roots in the rural crafts—the material-goods necessities—of ancient civilizations, and many specific crafts have been practiced for centuries, while others are modern inventions, or popularizations of crafts which were originally practiced in a limited geographic area.
In some of the Scandinavian countries, more advanced handicrafts form part of the formal, compulsory school curriculum, and are collectively referred to as slöjd in Swedish, and käsityö or veisto in Finnish. Students learn how to work with mainly metal, textile and wood, not for professional training purposes as in American vocational–technical schools, but with the aim to develop children’s and teens’ practical skills, such as everyday problem-solving ability, tool use, and understanding of the materials that surround us for economical, cultural and environmental purposes.
It is a traditional main sector of craft, and applies to a wide range of creative and design activities that are related to making things with one’s hands and skill, including work with textiles, moldable and rigid materials, paper, plant fibers, etc.
Secondary schools and college and university art departments increasingly provide elective options for more handicraft-based arts, in addition to formal "fine arts", a distinction that continues to fade throughout the years, especially with the rise of studio craft, i.e. the use of traditional handicrafting techniques by professional fine artists.