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Entries in crafting (4)


Craft Wars

I needed to marinate a bit before deciding to post about Craft Wars, the new show on TLC. First, in the spirit of disclosure, I am a Professional Designer in the Crafting Industry, I not only create content for numerous publications and various media outlets, I also create the very products seen on the show. I personally know many of the folks involved with the show and call them friends as well as a large percentage of the contestants themselves... to choose a winner would be akin to asking me which one of my three children is my favorite- it can't be done.

Rather than pick apart and rehash many of the criticisms and various critiques, I wanted to focus on something one of my students pointed out. Let me set the stage a bit first. This student is in her late 60's, is retired and spends much of her free time and resources on crafting. This student and her many friends had a "Craft Wars" party and insisted on texting me throughout the innagural show- funny as they are (and they are), these texts and running commentaries will never be published. Her words to me at the end of that first show were, "Sweetie why do they make it all disposable? They obviously don't get why we craft."

We live in an age of "reality tv" except, in crafting, the reality part of it isn't to hurry through and throw glitter on something, it is spending time to create something of lasting value. The reality of the world today is that people crave connection, real meaningful connection, not only with others but, in a way, themselves and finding the time to do so is tough. So many things are competing for our time, so many pressing "have-to-do's" and those immediate status updates manage to steal away our fingers and seduce them into doing something temporal rather than building something lasting. We forget that the moment we pick up a few items and decide to take the time to build something from those things, that we are empowered. The whole world could be going down the tubes yet, that one ability to make something from nothing, that deep core belief that we can indeed create a new outcome is like wearing a superhero cape in the face of impossible odds. Crafting links one set of hands to another, it in essence glues together our own humanity and adheres it to the timeline of history.

My take on Craft Wars is that it serves it's purpose as passive entertainment. My hope as a professional crafter and maker is that we collectively insist on functional art, on deliberate, purpose-filled projects that are thoughtful and well-made. The term "craft" or "crafting" should not be synonymous with crap held together with hot glue, with cheaply made or rushed through sparkling quick fixes, or with disposable handiwork... when one hears the term "crafting", my hope is that they hear, "this took time" and think, "Wow, they won the battle, the 'real' Craft Wars... they fought for the time to create something of value and won." 




Linking, connecting, being a part of something and it in turn being a part of you... it's called connection and I think more and more in our ever connected world, people are craving a more meaningful connection. As a creator, so much of what I make is in a studio, behind closed doors and in solitude. Many of the makers, the tinkerers, the doers types I am so blessed to have poking around in my world have expressed at one time or another, how isolation itself, the act of creating alone, isn't much of a sparring partner for their inner muse. Creativity, that magical ability to connect the random dots everyone sees in such a way that a picture emerges, is so much more meaningful when one can actually share that discovery with another. 

Awhile back, whilst demoing for an amazing company (Grant Studio) at a industry trade show (Craft and Hobby), I got sidetracked showing a beautiful soul how to make a "gum wrapper" bracelet out of a pile of scraps we had laying around. As it turned out, she spent her entire middle school years wearing braces on her teeth and was never allowed to chew gum... thus, she had never been exposed to the joys of folding the wrappers and MacGyvering them into many versions of wearable lovelies. To create a bracelet, we needed 66 links (the span of about 15 minutes) and something to talk about to pass the time. As we folded, others stopped by and sat down at the table, each having their own story about how, when, and where they themselves had learned to link the wrappers of gum that tended to lose it's flavor much too quickly. As our hands were busy, memories came flooding back and in the re-telling, the moment right then, that connection of strangers linked in a common project, made it's way into each of our creations. The ironic part to the whole story was the fact that this woman had been following me on the various social networks, she was someone I had never met but had "connected" with at some point... it wasn't until we made something together that we were truly linked.



Granny Squares

The rhythmic beauty in a hook that knows it's own way around the yarns told from youth, the fabric of our lives, a series of stitches fashioned by heart row by row, generation to generation, we are bound and swaddled in the blanket of humanity


Making Time

Wisdom knows that time is temporary in nature, fleeting, fragile, and precious. This is a clock I had constructed out of cardboard for a book that was never published. I had remembered a cross-stitched sampler with this old owl in those lovely shades of 1974 (orange, olive green, pink, and brown) in my grandmother's studio. Some of my fondest memories were of making things side by side with her in her artist's space. That time we spent together in a comfortable silence was sacred, the things we made were a testament to the minutes we had crafted into something tangible and lasting. The things we make have a way of trapping time, our creations are infused with the hours of ourselves we lovingly invest. By making the time to create, we are able to hold time in our hands and smile back at the clock's face.