This article is about the work of Minnette De Silva, which made claims upon heritage and historical meaning through its concerns with craft. It investigates three facets of her oeuvre—her building, her writing and teaching, her design and handicraft—through the lens of her pictorial autobiography, The Life and Work of an Asian Woman Architect. She identified this remarkable publication as her ‘archives’, documenting in it her life and work (in the absence of a dedicated collection of records), and the equally notable twentieth-century sites and spheres through which she moved. Few careers invite critical investigation of South Asia's modern architectural forms and history as does that of De Silva, an understudied figure credited as a pioneer: a Sri Lanka Institute of Architects Gold Medal recipient, a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Associate, a co-founder of the journal MARG, a participant in the International Congress of Modern Architecture (CIAM), and an architect practising in a range of discursive media. This article argues that De Silva positioned her intellectual and practical labour as a basis for authority rooted in a situated knowledge. In a reading of gender, caste, race and labour that maintains a scholarly scepticism about the purpose of the artist's biography, this article recovers her life and work from a fragmented archive, including an interview with De Silva in the year before her death, as well as a consideration of craft—interrogating each vis-à-vis the politics of historiography.