Problematic Crafting

In it’s very essence, I believe that crafting is a potent subversion from the dominant paradigm. To me, crafting is a celebration of the creative (not of the production heavy factories), coming from a feminine place (which is often marginalized), turns one object into another (what I like to think of as queering the atmosphere), empowering to the individual, unites community, and makes do with local, renewable materials or upcycling (thwarting consumerism).

Participating in the crafting community is both rewarding and troubling for me. Most days I find recipes for soaps, or how to turn a pallet into a bed, or knit up a rug. Then I also see tutorials for how to dismantle a solar stake and put it on a mason jar, or how to make a doily dream-catcher, or a design idea to put matchbooks behind glass in a painted frame.

More and more I have been seeing crafters priorities being:

  1. Are the materials cheap?
  2. Is it pretty?

and sometimes even

3. Is it easy to make?

This worries me because these three priorities tie crafters even more into dependency with pre made items, often making items even less efficiently made than the corporations themselves in the first place.

To me, there’s three qualities in crafts that have me feel passionate about crafts and their potential for disrupting mainstream assumptions.

  1. Is it furthering something or promoting something?
  2. Is it using renewable, low processed, or used materials?
  3. Is it making something more efficient?

Now, I don’t always hit all three on these on the head with every craft I make or like. There’s a place for low efficiency items without a message… but did it also create a lot of waste in making it? Does the craft actually promote a troubling message or appropriate other cultures? This is what I mean by something like the doily dream catcher mentioned above. I generally try to encompass 2 of the three in everything that I do.

Perhaps this is where I feel set apart from the crafting community in a lot of ways. I don’t think that Martha Stewart has interest in true DIY where her pre-made scrapbook kits aren’t necessary, or her glitter embossing sets aren’t coveted. I also believe that the innovative folks who are making most of the items that I am troubled by do not see the issue with appropriating indigenous arts, much less are they promoting the accessorizing of indigenous craft on purpose. Because I am in this community, and because I am a stand for crafting to really rupture something and create something… I’d love for us all to think about this when we get inspired to go buy some ikea object in order to make another item, or destroy one product to create something less efficient.

I do believe that crafting in its very essence (no matter if you’re crocheting a scarf, making moss graffiti, putting a bird on something, or making a floral brooch) brings people together, promotes innovation, puts arts into the everyday in an accessible way, and celebrates the feminine.

One thought on “Problematic Crafting

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