Why Craft?

When I explain to new people in my life what I am passionate about, I get two different reactions:

“That is so amazing! What a wonderful thing you are doing.”

or

“Why? Couldn’t you just buy that stuff?”

"History" wool, and hemp, 2011.
“History” wool, and hemp, 2011.

The drive to create is so strong, that it physically pains me to think of a day when I couldn’t make objects with my own two hands.

I recently listened to a lecture that was given at the Art Institute of Chicago (it was posted as a podcast in iTunes). The speaker, Jackson Lears, touched upon the division of the craft ideal with the promise and pressure of industrialization. I still have to sit and listen to it when I am not trying to focus on something else: but it made me think about the waxing and waning fervor for craft making.

A study of waffle weave.
A study of waffle weave.

When I was little, making things was something to keep me busy. My mother and grandmother taught me to crochet. And they also taught me basic sewing skills. It was never meant to be something deeper than that. But as I grew older, the creation of things with my hands became something more. I could create and give to others, I could teach others about what I make, and I can trace the history of these traditions back in time. Crafting in all forms creates a history book for me. My ancestors used to work in a Shirt Collar factory, they made lace, and beautiful quilts. I do not know of any weavers, but I do know of many seamstresses in my family tree.

Upon encountering such craft skepticism, I merely remind them about the cloths that they wear, the furniture they sit in, and the jewelry they wear. Those objects were designed by someone. At some point in the process of creating those items some one else’s hands touched and molded that object. Someone had to be trained to create. I am just merely making the objects that I have in my life more personal. I am creating objects that have more emotional value then an object purchased through a large corporation. If I could make everything I needed in my life, I would. But at this point- trying to make a living at what I do, I must sacrifice some of my idealism.

So- why craft?

Me- enjoying some handcrafted goodness.
Me- enjoying some handcrafted goodness.

I craft out of the need to create. The drive to be more connected to my history. And I create to connect to those in my present life and to my future friends and family.

Why do you create? How do you feel when you encounter craft skepticism?

This is a topic that I will often explore, and more in depth about the theory of craft and creating. So think of this as a little teaser for things to come.

 

 

 

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