Crafting in Circles

When I was 14 I read an article in Seventeen Magazine that shared how some everyday household items could double as hair care products. Among them, mayonnaise. Mayonnaise (I found out) works also as a conditioner, so I had to try it out. I don’t remember if it worked any better than the Herbal Essences I used to use then, but I was so excited about this innovation that I kept mayo in the shower for almost two weeks before my poor parents realized what was going on.

I share this gross story because the DIY innovations, and tips and tricks that I see today aren’t all that revolutionary when you’re just giving your money to Kraft (now Mondelez International as of Oct 2012) rather than Procter & Gamble. DIY for novelty’s sake doesn’t forward anything, doesn’t actually teach us anything, and perpetuates consumption for consumptions sake.

The food & household products monopoloy
Click the image to see it full sized. What does our food & home products monopoly look like?

I admit that I’ve been browsing the interwebs, gawking and loving up hundreds of crafty blogs and websites each offering tutorials, features of other websites, and glimpses into the writers’ lives. They are each unique in their own way: urban farmers in love with their chickens, mother of three working to live as frugally as possible, chef turned to jewelry maker… each is unique and has a step forward into the DIY world that is blossoming more than ever through these online venues. But I am calling myself out, and I invite everyone in the crafting webmosphere to step up. There’s times when I wake up from my scrolling and see myself as starved for consumption, wanting to find the next big thing, wanting some cool new gadget, some neat new trick, some handy tool, wanting wanting wanting….

It’s no secret that the industrial revolution in the United States pushed domestic workers into factories, men and women (and children) alike. Families living in urban areas got caught into the machines and corporations grew exponentially because of that near slave labor. In the 1950’s, the iconoclastic housewife was left as the last remaining member in the home. The dominant culture of that time was propelled by commercial interests and the White middle class housewife was the target for most advertising campaigns. She spent her days preparing for and hosting gatherings at the home, kept the children clean and fed, and tidied the house or depended on people of color to do these services for her.

clothespins before and afterWhy do I bring this up? Because I feel like history is repeating. We are still obsessing over hosting parties, and making sure that the turkey is cooked just so. We are obsessing over decor and trading secrets for upholstery care. Heck, just look at my Pinterest boards. We are still turning a blind eye to the labor, environmental destruction, and privilege that we are wasting by doing this. Overall, I am scared that we are spending our time consuming and spinning ourselves into circles. We’re not really creating anything here. Crafting is becoming more of a means to consume, than to create and empower.

Now, I’m loving the slow and steady trend that is climbing for bringing homesteading techniques back into our memory and upcycling techniques for turning trash to usable items… but painting a chalkboard onto a silver platter for cute decor, or painting plastic animals isn’t really forwarding anything (and I’m calling myself out on this too!) There are injustices happening under our feet because we waste our time and don’t look up. We are promoting below living standards for retail workers across the globe and the international outsourcing of jobs and production when we shop at Walmart, Michaels, and Target. In this capitalist country, we are voting for the practices of these mega stores (and impossibly mega owners) by shopping there. We are continuing this blind consumption from the 50’s and it’s not all that cute to me when women are living into the “housewife” concept.

baby shower before and afterCrafts aren’t meant to be cheap for the sake of saving pennies, to go buy more crafting materials. Buying at mega stores or online (and again, I’m totally calling myself out on this) is contributing to outsourced jobs, cheaply made biohazardous production made with disposable workers often people of color, in excruciatingly toxic packaging that is immediately thrown into our trash cans.

Crafts aren’t meant to simply fill time or make you feel good about being able to point to something in the room and say, “You like that pillow? I made it from a pattern on Pinterest!”  Crafts to me are the gateway to personal independence from corporations. Crafting to me means that I can learn to make my own plates, spool my own yarn, make my own soap. Crafting means that I can limit my waste and hold everything that I own as sacred. I am not condoning making things beautiful. I am calling myself out for making things that waste far more than my eyes can actually see for something that is purely for decor reasons, or is temporary. The kind of crafting that I am committed to brings me back to the simplicities of living in community and sharing with people around me. When my neighbor’s tomato plant went crazy he brought me a basket of tomatoes. In return I brought him tomato jam. To me, crafting is asking for help from a neighbor on learning to fix my bike  basket instead of opting to buy another one. It’s about getting more intimate with my food and challenging myself to only eat from our garden or the farmers market. Crafting means that I get to limit paying taxes to a government feeding war and destruction, spoiled by these all-powerful international corporations. Crafting means that I get to give money to people I love directly, or trade what I make for their expertise in body and health care. Crafting is about local economies, reclaiming independence, and slowing the war machine. I am calling myself out and I am taking a stand. I am committed to crafting truly creating something.

More on radical crafting  |   What I’m crafting   |   What you can craft

Mayo Trick  credited to Centsational Girl

Retro craft projects brought to you by Kitschy Kitschy Koo

Diaper cake is credited to Moody Girl in Style

Clothes pin tea wreath is credited to Kojo Designs

Seeds are credited to one of my favorite urban farming sites, Heavy Petal

95 thoughts on “Crafting in Circles

  1. So eloquently put, Cheyenne. I think, with the aid of Pinterest especially, we’re all guilty of crafting for the purpose of creating adorable things. You’ve really given me something to consider for future projects and, more long term, for certain lifestyle changes I need to make.

    1. Why thank you Dawn!! I’m so honored for your thoughts and reflections! I’m definitely holding myself accountable for this too. I keep consuming and consuming, but I’m not actually moving anything.

  2. This is an incredible post. I am not exactly a crafter myself; with a crawling baby to chase after, I can barely find the time to maintain my blog. However, when I do find the time, I do like to hit up Michaels or Hobby Lobby to find new projects, and I have often felt that pang of guilt for feeding the machine of consumption. Instead of repurposing bric-a-brac laying around unused in my home, I buy things sourced questionably overseas. Instead of supporting local craft shops that source their supplies sustainably and ethically, I go to Walmart and save pennies on a lower-quality item likely laden with BPA. Thank you for writing this. It was just the kick in the pants that I needed. ;D

    1. Thank you for taking this as an opportunity to check yourself! I acknowledge you for being open minded and humble! I know that taking care of a little one makes convenience that much more alluring. Might I recommend, keeping your attention on what you are teaching your little one (in those moments of weakness) and know that you and your little one are both worthy of beautiful, precious, homemade good, so much more than Walmart/Michael’s disposable goods. ❤

  3. Chalk it up to potent marketing. What we are exposed to over time, we take for granted as being true. Especially when society, who has also been exposed to the same stuff, backs up your assumptions. Marketers know this. But we are in charge of all that, we are in charge of our eyes and ears and minds. You can chose what to focus on. I went on a mission to end my exposure to advertising and after ten years, I’ve become so good at it–and live so peacefully–that now I teach other people how to do it. Believe me, your creativity and self-awareness goes nuclear when your decision making becomes your own again, particularly at the subtle, cellular, spiritual levels.

    And shopping becomes a dream for the self-aware self-starter. No need to chose between two ugly side tables at the department store–go out and find some reclaimed wood and make them just how you like ’em. Don’t like all the suspicious ingredients in those cake mixes? Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World has recipes so fast, easy, and insanely delicious that I’ve fooled friend’s husbands during the Super Bowl. Tweak the recipe a bit and the naming rights on a spectacular new cupcake is yours. Nothing ever fits exactly right out of the catalog? Ever sewn together a pair of Thai Fisherman’s pants? In one hour you can have the right shade, the right fit, and the compliments of jealous friends for a fraction of the price of those hideous pink canvas clamdiggers on page 47 that only go up to size 10.

    I loathe “art kits.” The WORLD is your art kit. All you need is desire and some good tools. Good post.

    1. Yes! We have the power of choice! It’s so good to remember that the bigger structure is based off of millions of individuals. Each person contributes to how it goes.
      How’s that going for you in avoiding advertisements? It seems like in this web-based-world, that it’s rather impossible! I big-time acknowledge you for an unreasonable and huge commitment! How do you make it work, and what have you seen change in you?

      1. Once you’re aware of all the forms of mental and emotional manipulation out there, they become simple to recognize and sidestep. The “web-based-world” makes it ridiculously easy–from adblockers to firewall security settings, there are countless programs that allow you to control what shows up on your monitor. Plus, a highbrow attitude towards surfing, only searching for and landing on sites that serve your best interests, makes a tremendous difference. It doesn’t take a “huge” commitment but it does require an ongoing one. You have to go all in, even cleaning out your address book of spam-like personalities that plague your determination and peace of mind.

        Once I discovered the Mute button on my remote control and call waiting on my phone in the 80s, a world of mental serenity opened up to me. I raised the bar, set my standards very high, and learned to hold out for what made me truly happy. I made a hobby of researching how the mind worked, how marketers used that knowledge to influence you without your permission (it would blow your mind to learn all the stuff they pull on you in supermarkets, alone), and tied it all into positive aspects of mind training like meditation and focused thought. The wonderful thing is that the process is cumulative: the less you expose yourself to ads, the less they work on you. What was once just background chatter slowly drilling itself into your subconscious becomes obnoxiously obvious and easy to say No to. The truth, once invisible, pops out at you.

        I have freed myself from all sorts of limiting beliefs, improved my overall health drastically, and become empowered to the point of feeling like a secret superhero among mere mortals. It feels fantastic to know what I know. What’s fascinating in retrospect is how easy it all was, it just took awareness and practice. There are few things that cannot be mastered with that very formula.

      2. Love this! It’s funny how truly looking at something brings a new awareness for being able to avoid it. I so subliminally allow it into my mind, which makes pinpointing it and rejecting it not possible. Great comments, thank you!

  4. I saw this on Fresh Pressed today, and I couldn’t agree more: I strongly dislike a lot of the “cute” things that I see on Pinterest or wherever, and for me, crafts have to serve a strong purpose. That being said, I still sometimes run out and buy activated charcoal because it’s novel and new. I mean, yes, it makes great eyeliner, but I already have eyeliner, and I don’t even wear it that often!

    I recently set a rule for myself that I can’t buy any new fabric, even second-hand thrift-store fabric, until I have worked through 80% of the stuff I already have. Here’s to reduced consumerism!

  5. I love this post! I can honestly say I just never thought about this before, even though it seems like it’s so obvious. I think the idea that we’re feeding the beast, in a sense, through our own obsession with trying to be DIY-freaks is really compelling, and something I’m going to examine a lot more closely in my own life. I also really agree with what you said about striving to be a 50s housewife being very unappealing. I actually just recently (as in like, this week) shut down my “mommy blog” because I was just freaking sick of it. I felt like I was trying to capture the attention of an audience who totally wanted me to be something I’m not, and it was completely frustrating. I know this post got Freshly Pressed, so you’re being met with the wordpress hoards right now, but know you gained a follower in me today. I think this post and just the entire concept behind your blog is so cool.

    1. Thanks Ashley! So so true. That’s what’s tricky, isn’t it? I feel as if there’s been a serious explosion of DIY/crafty knowledge sharing lately, which is fantastic, and generally a very cool trend to have. But like most trends, it’s become commercialized. I just don’t want this awesome wave of education, community building, and creativity to lose it’s heart as marketing seizes our interests.
      When we walk super close to the already laid out groove (like “Mommy Blog” gets close to “50’s Housewife” ideals), I think that there’s a real big juicy opportunity to provide an alternative to problematic mainstream structures. By flying parallel but subscribing to a different independent, creative, and empowering structure of your own, you can call out all that is unworkable in the 50’s Housewife ideal. It’s a challenging place to be though (as you expressed), and all the more evidence that you’re doing something against the grain.
      I was (honestly) getting a little uncomfortable myself with my trying to grab an audience… so writing about my commitments and calling myself out to reset my foundations has been such a blessing!

  6. This is a fantastic post – I agree wholeheartedly. Thanks for helping us keep things in perspective. Every reminder is valuable when we’re being bombarded with advertising designed to drive us in the opposite direction.

  7. Wonderfully written and well said! My father and I run a sustainable farm and STILL have to keep ourselves “in check” with how much we actually consume. This post really hits home- awesome job girl!

  8. Crafting for me is about recycling. Why throw out that ripped shirt? Chop it into 3.5″ squares and toss them into a bag. Do that enough times, then whip out the sewing machine. Bam, quilt. Not all crafts are like this, but my favorites are the ones that hinge on reusing stuff, that there is less actual trash on our houses than we think.

    Quilting in particular strikes me that way — and I’m certainly guilty of buying fabric to make quilts with, knowing full well that the point of quilting was to use up scraps of junk that were far too small to do anything with, but that could suddenly become large things when added together with other like scraps.

    For me, that’s what crafting is, at its best. Reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s at its worst when people buy a ton of crap to make some little geegaw with, and end up with a pile of trash bigger than said geegaw when they’re done. *agh*

    1. Fabric is magical like that! Hooray for quilting, it is a lifesaver. I think that quilting also helps us relish and cherish things more. At least, that’s how it is for me. Each little bit comes from some other larger project… so the quilt becomes a reference and rememberance of everything that it’s pulled from. I thought that you’d enjoy this, which was my senior prom dress which my mom and I had quilted from all of my baby clothes, dress up clothes, my dad’s shirts, and mom’s scarves. This dress is one of my prized possessions.
      My senior high school prom dress, which my mom and I made out of scraps of all of our sentimental fabrics (leftover scraps from my dress up clothes when I was a kid, my dad's t-shirts, baby clothes...)

    2. So true. My grandmother gifted my sister and I with intricate quilts made of the fabric from all the dresses she made for herself and others. I took it to heart and asked my mother to send me all the fabric she had saved up from the stuff she made for my sister and I. I turned it into a Native American design that reflected the cultures I was studying at the time in college (plus I just needed a cover for my bed.) Both quilts are kind of falling apart now because I’m not a Not the Good China! woman, I actually use my beautiful things everyday and enjoy the hell out of them.

      fireandair, you cracked me up with “geegaw’s.” Instantly put me in mind of the whole scrap booking craze and the 37 different varieties of special scalloping scissors, 1,287 stickers, 456 cutesy borders, 48 punch hole tools, 6 glues, 947 labels, 132 ink pads, 998 ink stamps, 27 colors of sticky-back rhinestones, ten billion pre-cut images, and don’t even get me started on the 403 different styles of blank, pre-made scrap books, themselves, dotted lines already printed on each page, just waiting for that photo of the time the dog got stuck in baby stroller. Barf.

      I save every bow around everything, each sheet of colored tissue packing paper, every shiny little thing. If I don’t use it in a year, I donate it to the local library who hosts free art classes. With a good pair of scissors, a 99 cent ugly greeting card that’s blank inside, and a glue stick, I can take carefully cut glossy magazine images and create a montage to insert an image into so that the birthday boy really looks like he’s hacking his way through the jungles of Hawaii or driving a Lambourghini Aventador down the streets of Chicago or surrounded by adoring Ford models who hang on every note of his guitar solo. Eat my dust, Hallmark!

  9. Ha! Guilty as charged! Every new hobby is an excuse to go shopping for all the cool and creative new gadgets, not to mention magazines and books. Many of us see potential dollar signs in our crafts, even while we’re spending like mad to get the materials and tools to make them! You’ve given us something to think about…

  10. I really like what you’re saying here. We are all guilty of becoming consumers without realising it, I know I am. Crafting for the sake of getting a few ‘likes’ or some kind of pretentious kudos in the blog world is another form of this and quite irritates me!!
    I would certainly like to be able to repair and recycle things I own into something useful, rather than buying new all the time. I just need the time!! :):)

  11. Love this post. I’ve been annoyed so much at what I see being pinned lately! Of course, half of what is pinned is absolutely useless. I determined in my own use of pinterest to pin only what would be useful for me. Things that I could do to use up “trash” around my home, ie: green cleaning ideas, healthy recipes (that I would actually use), ideas to make my home inviting, and ways to make my role as a teacher more fun for the students (without added cost). I have been able to use so many items around my home instead of spending money. I don’t believe in spending money on something if I don’t have to (thus, keeping it out of the hands of the big box stores). I even try to buy groceries at local markets (which happen to be half the cost of the chain grocery stores!). I love that I’ve been able to stay home with my son now and my husband and I don’t worry about finances. I don’t spend money on what I don’t need. Thanks for this post! It’s always encouraging to see others who have the same goals and ideals.

  12. I’m impressed by your sincerity. But microeconomics is just the result of each person making choices that benefit him/herself in a world of scarcity. Corporations are owned by people like yourself who will choose different executives if they’re dissatisfied with their financial performance. The alternative is people making choices that don’t benefit themselves, and companies that are answerable to nobody — or a world without scarcity. These things are not going to happen.

    1. Thanks for that point. Choice is a tricky word because there also lies influence. The more we can see that there’s influence, hopefully the more aware we are of our TRUE choices. Then “what benefits me” changes as we can become aware of the true damage it does (not just to the world, but to us individually as well).
      The scarcity issue is interesting too. Marketing relies on a view of scarcity and fear. I don’t feel like there really is scarcity, but rather inequality in the distribution. The world is abundant. The more that we can realize that (in our comfortable homes, with access to food and water) then hopefully the more willing we are to give.

      1. Hi Cheyenne, I agree with your views on scarcity and the use of fear to persuade our choices. I think the other piece of this, one that I feel is growing more and more present, is the availability of locally sourced items. The shift from wanting to make money versus a passion with what one does-feeling connected and part of the greater whole, whether growing hops, dying yarn from ones one wool etc. Having the consumers and producers (who are the same) align, I feel that will help. Great post!

  13. word. humans can be incredibly efficient, but in today we only do so when we have to. hopefully this is sorta starting to change. i mean why do we grow so inn inefficient, consuming, and separated from each other when things are good and only come together and find a better way when times are tough? why can’t we have the best of both worlds?

  14. HA! I thought I was the only one gullible enough to try the mayonnaise thing! I remember sitting in my high school class with my head reeking like a salad. And it was so oily I looked as awful as I smelled. Thanks for the memory…still chuckling. And, you are right about the need to simplify. As Americans, we should be leaders in this, rather than such out-of-control conspicuous consumption. We should find beauty in simplicity — or better yet, in nature.

  15. While I can’t say I’ve ever felt myself being pigeon-holed into the iconic image of a 50’s housewife, I feel I give homage to the brave women whonwere a part of that era when I say I am an avid participant in the “granny arts”. Of course, I agree with you completely about the mega-consumerism issue in the crafting world. A few months ago, after spending about $200 for specific fabrics to make a quilt for a friend of mine, I really started evaluating my priorities in what is called in quiltspeak “stash building”. Like another of your commenters mentioned, I’ve vowed to not buy any more fabric until I’ve used up a majority of what I already have.

    As a home cook, especially, Pinterest gets on my last nerve when I see endless pins for so-called homemade dishes that are littered with processed, name brand foods. I hope we can all get back to basics, and I strive to do that myself (a constant challenge).

  16. I love crafting with things I have just lying around the house or yard. I used to make wreaths from vines or leftover hay rope all the time while growing up on a farm. I’m not exactly “green”, but I was raised as a country girl with a homesteader’s mentality and frugality. We just got a chicken coop, and I’m so excited to be fixing to get chickens again! Yes, I know that I sound ancient, but I’m only 31. 🙂 I just wrote a blog post a few days ago about teaching my 3 year old “can crushing cutie” responsibility, built around her love of crushing the cans for recycling. Anyway, enjoyed the post!

    1. Thank you! I think of “crafting” as the modern day person’s work towards re-educating themselves on basic household needs. Simplicity and building knowledge around these things (and teaching your 3 year old!) is radical! You’re crafting independence from corporate strongholds.

  17. One more minor comment about crafting (full disclosure: I quilt, crochet, knit, spin, and tat for fun):


    I am not striking back against evil bad ol’ meanie-toes feminists who hurt women’s widdle fee-fees in the 70s and made us all feel GUILTY!!!!!!!!! about being feminine-n-stuff. I Mean, I’m All For Women’s Rights But They Went Too Far™. And any other associated bullsh*t we’ve all encountered from time to time.

    Nor am I striking a blow for Career Gurlz™ who want to apologize for being financially independent by knitting handmade socks to reassure men that they are still unthreateningly domestic.


    *clears throat*


    1. BTW, I know that you are talking about political crafting — what I’m talking about is women who seem to want to craft because they want to say, “I’m not like that b*tch over there.”

      Reducing, reusing, and recycling unfortunately in this world has political implications, which you’ve made clear. But I’m not doing it because some other b*tch isn’t and I like toetalleee!!11!!! hate her guts. I craft without considering the many other women who I’m proving I’m not like.

      1. You are your own person, doing what you love. I reserve the right to call that radical (and yeah, that doesn’t seem right). I call lots of things radical. It’s a word I like 😉

    2. Hysterical. Love it. I honestly never even considered whether or not what I do is feminist or whatnot. Mostly, I think about A. How much money I will save, B. How much better my designs are than the store’s, C. How none of these materials are going to wind up in a landfill somewhere, in that order. And I can turn it on and off like Almond Joy: sometimes you feel like a crafting nut, sometimes you don’t.

      PS: Any man who requires a woman to cook, sew, and clean his world 24/7 with a silent, submissive half-smile on her face either stumbled off the set of Little House on the Prairie or is Amish. Both are fine if you love it, just don’t invite me to the barbecue. I’ll be busy that year.

  18. You are so right about the consumerism. I am an avid jewelry maker and haven’t bought any made jewelry in years (maybe decades). I learned to make jewelry so that I could afford to feed my jewelry habit, and because the act of creation is so very gratifying. But I have a horrible disease. I will candidly confess, I have a shopping disorder. If I see beads, or jewelry making supplies, I just HAVE to buy them. And I so don’t need them. Jewelry makers (as do crafters of all types, I imagine) have the expression, “She who dies with the most beads wins.” Well, in that case, I think I’ve won. I always get that high when I buy new stuff and then the guilty crash. It’s not that I can’t afford it, but that’s beside the point, isn’t it? I have a sickness and I am nearly powerless over it. And I could never use the supplies I have even if I had three lifetimes. It’s a terrible feeling, and it really is like alcoholism. I know there are support groups for compulsive shoppers, and if I lived in a bigger town, I would go to them.

    1. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing yourself so vulnerably and authentically. I am inspired by your honest transparency! Addiction is a serious life-long challenge for countless people, and a disease that isn’t treated with much respect. I acknowledge you for being courageous and transparent. I know that there are plenty of jokes/material for you to allow yourself to continue on this road, but it looks like you are ready to acknowledge that you have a problem, which as you probably know is the first step. I am really interested in addiction and how we don’t admit to it, or see it to limited vices. If you’re interested, check it out:

      Again, thank you so much. I am inspired by you!


    2. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing yourself so vulnerably and authentically. I am inspired by your honest transparency! Addiction is a serious life-long challenge for countless people, and a disease that isn’t treated with much respect. I acknowledge you for being courageous and transparent. I know that there are plenty of jokes/material for you to allow yourself to continue on this road, but it looks like you are ready to acknowledge that you have a problem, which as you probably know is the first step. I am really interested in addiction and how we don’t admit to it, or see it to limited vices. If you’re interested, check it out:

      Again, thank you so much. I am inspired by you!


  19. I must say it is highly coincidental that i came across this post on freshly pressed while on the bus to Micheals… needless to say it surely reduced the amount of time i spent there and caused me to only browse for the yarn i intended on shopping for. Mind you it also made me look around at all the other items and scoff at the price some people will pay for a piece of predesigned paper. I do many of thing when i craft including scrapbooking crocheting and random other projects i pick up, most recently a spice rack for my boyfriend who is a chef.
    You made me look back at the small craft store that used to be in town which was sadly rundown by the big box stores, and the comment my boyfriend made when i told him about my spice rack idea. “It will be awesome to have one that is unique and made to my style and preference!” He seemed more excited than i was. Even for this project and a few others i have on the go, i always go straight to my freecycle groups before i go out and buy anything.
    Needless to say you have gained a follower today with this post, and got a few gears turning in my mind for further use of my freecycle and trading groups!

  20. I never dreamt that upcycling /recycling and crafting could be a political statement. I think I grew up in the “wrong” family –a lot of DYI especially on sewing side for a poor family of 6 children. None of us went to art classes after school, if it wasn’t at our school. So we did our own stuff after pouring over library craft books.

  21. You’re absolutely right, and the effect is not just in the US. With the emergence of “shabby chic” and “vintage style” consumers are still going for new products rather than going to an antique shop or car boot and working on it themselves, no crafting involved. The world seems to have lost it’s pride for creating things with your own hands that can be of benefit to more than one person.
    Great post

  22. The DIY movement is interesting to me, thanks so much for sharing your experiences with radical crafting. I’ve always shopped in thriftstores and made my own food and such…I had no idea this way of life would become as organized and political as it has become. This part is new, but I’m listening. My only fear is that when the movement gets judgemental and obsessional it might turn some people away from its very important message. For instance, I work outside the home and don’t have time to make my own soap, or beer or paper or whatever. But I am willing to spend my money on products made in a more sustainable fashion by someone local.

  23. You wrote: “Crafting is becoming more of a means to consume, than to create and empower” … bravo for that statement.”

    I was in a large crafter store recently and overheard two women advising another young woman on which “hobby” she should select. One described scrapbooking as “all that is, is a really expensive photo album.” (Which is true.) It was as though she had been told “you need to have a hobby craft, get busy and make some stuff.”

    What struck me was that she was deliberately CHOOSING a hobby, not having a passion that she was feeding.

    I make things because I can’t imagine any other way to live my life — ideas call to me, images swirl in my imagination — begging to be made real. I learn new techniques and experiment with materials to meet some design challenge. I grow. If, someday, making my own art becomes simply a way to consume and compare and show off, I would be very, very sad.

    But you are so right: there is a mindset out there that we must buy more things to make things, regardless of the joy it brings; for some people, it’s just another consumptive task.

  24. This is actually a topic I explore frequently on my blog – I also branch out into healthy living, beauty and mother/baby topics as well. I think there is an interesting “crafting culture” online – perpetuated by sites like Pinterest and Instagram where people are more interested in the appearance of being crafty or DIY orientated and how their online personas are perceived and accepted than actually being creative or original.

  25. I was a crafter when younger, making things I could wear or give as gifts, poetry I wrote modge-podged on vessels I bought at the thrift store (I worked there and got a discount) or making jewelry using beads made from clay. Back then I didn’t have a lot of money so I improvised, my life took a turn and I then found myself with what I call “bags with tags” I was buying for the simple sake of buying and leaving items in the bags…never using them. Ever. Becoming a mother provided a shift in me, I am more conscious now with things, mainly because of the rate I see things going to hell and a hand basket…I want a better future, a better place for her and hopefully her family. And I know it starts with me. If we all took a few actions to make a change, it really would add up and I’m not talking money spent 😉

    1. AH! Mothers are the most powerful people on the planet! Thank you for seeing what an impact you have, and using that power to create positive change! Much love ❤

  26. Great comments! The consideration of the links between crafting, consumption, and the source of the things is great. Might I suggest that you have a look at (this is not my site, so not self promotion). It’s got lots of interesting info on where things come from and where they go once we finish with them. We live in an interconnected world and its good to know what and where those connections are.

    1. I know, right?? (re: comments). What a neat site (thanks for sharing it)! It’s fascinating to see the life of objects from creation to destruction… and sad to think that we’ve lost site of the process. I feel like our disconnection to the process has created our unreasonable expectations for the cost/price of things. When we don’t know what it took to create something, I think that we devalue it and treat it as disposable. When we get informed (like with then maybe we can find more respect for the cost of food/clothes/household items, and relish them more. Thanks for the link, that’s a rabbit-hole I’m happy to fall down 😉

  27. i wasn’t very much interested in crafts at one time only a bit of scrapbooking. However I got into sewing making scarves. I mostly handsew. I haven’t mastered my machine yet. I like to design as I sew, skinny sccarves, headband scarbes, andturban scarves whatever. Isn[t that’s what crafts are about relaxation and being creative I’d like to follow your blog and you may get to know me through mine also.

  28. Most inspiring post I’ve read in quite some time! Thank you for sharing! I agree wholeheartedly with your post. I recently learned that the textile industry is one of the world’s worst offenders in terms of pollution. Considering that, my favorite form of crafting is refashioning. It’s a way to save some outdated garment that’s destined for a landfill and transform it into something new and completely unique, modern and wearable. Also, it brings so much satisfaction for me to refashion something that already existed as something else, than it does to make something from “scratch”, (if you will) from new fabric. It’s also very inspiring to me to see how popular “refashioning” and “upcycling” are right now! Thanks again for this wonderful post, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    1. Thank you so so much! Have you seen ReFashioninista? She’s continued a really outlandish and inspiring refashion commitment for remaking thrift finds every day for two years now!
      Thank you for your support, and thank you for contributing to part of the solution!

  29. I never really thought of crafting that way. I always felt like a lot of crafting supplies are sometimes more expensive than they need to be.

  30. I really appreciated this post for two reasons. I have begun to really craft, not just for myself, but for others and this is a great reality check to help me to remember that while I am making beautiful things, I also want to make useful items out of found, reclaimed, or re-purposed materials rather than just “walmarting” everything. Up until not I have had a policy of using as much as possible only reclaimed fabric rather than going out and buying new and this helps me to see that I am going in the right direction and I shouldn’t be tempted to go back on my principles.

    Thank you!

    1. You rock! Thank you for sharing! Repurposed is such a fantastic way of going. It takes money out of outsourced slave labor, breathes new life into discarded goods, creates true diversity & uniqueness, limits waste, and (if you’re shopping at a little indie thrift shop) puts money into local economies. Have you seen the music video, Thrift Shop by Macklemore?

      1. Oh my word yes! It makes me laugh so hard…but truthfully most of my supplies come from the local thrift stores which fund non profit charities so it is great all around.

  31. I never thought about that until you said that. I don’t do crafting but I’m fan of Pinterest and yes this is a evolution of the capitalism to make us a new specie of consumers.

  32. Well put… I tend to clean the house out and when I have things I can’t take to goodwill or a thrift store to resale I search the item online with the word homemade and see if I can do anything with it, if I can’t it gets tossed or recycled. Less clutter. I love your post tho! I hope many others read it! I also love to find products I can make from things with ingredients in my own kitchen… Like I use coconut oil for cooking so one day I just searched online and found I could mix it with the other oils I have and make my own face wash for a lot less than what I was paying for retail items. Awesome post 🙂 lets get back to the basics… And let’s bring back bartering!

  33. thank you for this beautiful articulation. yes, yes, yes. i wasn’t able to put my finger on what was bothering me about the sudden proliferation of craftiness, but you’ve got it. i love the tomatoes/tomato jam example. taking from the abundance and finding ways to make it useful, rather than drawing from precious resources to create the unnecessary. i find, too, that we get to access an entirely new level of creativity when we apply these boundaries. this was a huge year for acorns so i’ve been using them for packaging instead of bubble wrap, not to mention making loads of acorn-flour pancakes.

  34. Wow!!! I think I will be rereading this one a few times in the coming weeks. I love your articulation, honesty and core reality of the difficulties in coexisting within the parameters of society and awareness of how our existence faces challenges in how our representative consumerism is complacency to the indecency it causes. I look forward to meandering around more of your pages!!

  35. Just found this on Freshly Pressed and so glad I did 🙂 I agree with you completely, especially on the pinterest front – I use it, and like it, but so much of what I see on the DIY/craft boards really is just feeding into the whole ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ perfect home idea (is that a phrase you have in the US or have I just confused things?!) As a feminist and social history postgraduate I find the modern housewife phenomenon both curious and worrying, and I hate it when I realise that because I love cooking, and making things, people seem to put me into that category. It’s nice to see it isn’t just me worrying about that!

  36. This is quite wonderful and inspirational. Your thoughts about crafting ideas are beautifully impressive. I absolutely agree. Crafting is simply amazing. Congratulations for being in FP!

  37. I saw this on Fresh Pressed today, and I agree. I sometimes get caught up in the ‘oh, I need to go out and buy X and Y so I can make something cute’, but lately I have been trying to use items we already have around the house – lately it has been contact paper leftovers, used glass Honest Tea bottles, etc. It is sometimes a challenge to think this way, but I have been enjoying it.

  38. You’re so interesting! I do not think I have read a single thing like this before. So wonderful to find another person with genuine thoughts on this subject matter. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is something that is needed on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

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