"The Steadiness of a Demolition Expert:" Craft Skill in 1960s Eye Makeup

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This paper examines the relationship between makeup and craft, reframing makeup as a craft praxis and the body as a craft object, using the case study of the “cut crease” technique of eye makeup application popularized in the 1960s. In doing so, I examine how-to content from the mid-20th century in order to show that the 1960s were an inflection point in the history of makeup due to a reconfiguring of boundaries between “professional” and “amateur” skillsets and a broadening of the vocabulary used to describe makeup techniques among non-professionals. The final portion of this paper is an in-depth firsthand description of a series of three different makeup applications featuring different permutations of the cut crease technique using instructions, tools, and products analogous to ones available to middle-class American consumers in the 1960s. This illustrates the skills and specialized knowledge required to create such a look as well as the limitations of the how-to content of the era.