Craft Politics

22 Aug

I didn’t start crafting in order to ask deep questions… I just wanted to make things. Or so I thought.

More and more, the big questions underlying domestic craft are taking me over. The history, the sociology, the politics of craft are drawing me in while my sewing machine gathers dust in the corner. Why? Well, I guess I’m a student at heart, and even sewing a seam comes with a fervent desire to weave a theoretical backdrop for what I’m doing.

And why am I doing it? What’s the real reason behind the crafting ‘renaissance’ of the last 5-10 years, and why have so many women (for it is mostly women) re-engaged with domestic life in this way? Is it a move away from feminism, or as I would hope, a move towards it? Is it a way of reclaiming ‘home life’ without becoming trapped in stereotypical expectations?  Is it less about gender, and more a comment on the state of capitalism? Is it a way of combining commerce and community?

Interest in these issues does seem to be growing. There was, for example, an exhibition at the Women’s Library last year (Handmade Tales) that focused on the role of crafting in definitions of womanhood, past and present.

But what about the crafters themselves? How do you see your wonderful projects of making and remaking clothes, interiors, gifts and more? Do you ever ask the big questions about what you’re doing, and if so, what conclusions have you come to?

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