One's first contact with materials occurs as infants with the swaddling cloths that warm and comfort us, but also restrain us. As life goes on material objects always surround us. They structure the way we look at the world and how we arrange our thoughts; they serve a wide range of utilitarian, aesthetic, social and symbolic functions; methods of designing, manufacturing and using materials are at the core of our technology and much of our culture. Materials technology, making and using objects, is thus in a unique position relative to history and culture. While interpretations sought by study of these objects are judgmental and humanistic, they must rest on as secure a foundation of solid materials knowledge as is possible. The central paradigm of materials technology is that the selection and processing of materials gives rise to a particular structure which is the source of useful properties (Fig. 1). This is exactly the process used by the artist who aims at aesthetic properties, and the craftsman and technologist who aim at particular properties.