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Entries in Functional Art (1)


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."