Tag Archives | beautification

Embracing Joyful Activism & an Instagram Craftivism Round Up

I haven’t been around lately because I have been scared. Like stupid scared. Why, you ask?

Because I’ll have to admit something. That when I started making YASVB signs, I thought I was failing. So I was having a super hard time talking about them because I thought it meant abandoning craftivism entirely. But then I remembered that there is no rule book for craftivism (outside of the fact it should fall inside of those tenets and be handmade and make the world better) and that’s why I created it to be the amorphous blob that is. So it can evolve and change so it can involve all interested parties. But I forgot that along the way.

What that means now is sharing the work of other people as it changes and evolves. Such as doing Instagram round ups like this one.


I was scared to go in a new direction because I was scared people would tell me it’s not craftivism because it’s not about a cause. I was scared to be told I was a bad craftivist. I was scared to embrace what made me feel good. Really truly amazing. 

Because this work is about fighting the negative spaces inside you. It’s about being strong so you can show up and fight. It’s about being healthy enough to make the right choices so you can make the world better. It’s about believing you are a being of joy and compassion first and foremost.

That, to me, is craftivism. Creative self care. I was holding my breath all the time and not exhaling in fear of my next step. Scared to step into the beautification tenet of craftivism because it seemed like perhaps it wasn’t good enough. But, what can be better than embracing the fullness of our selves and letting ourselves make from a place of full-on ecstatic joy? 


Getting there . . . . #craftivism #hb2 #xstitch #wearenotthis #crossstitchersofinstagram #wip #intersectionalfeminism

A photo posted by A. Wiseass (@fakegeekgrrrl) on


So for awhile I thought I should just check out and come up with some new portmanteau which was actually really sad and confusing. I struggled to write about craftivism because the project wasn’t craftivism in my head- my brain went in circles trying to find a resolution. And it made me tired and cranky and miserable. And really sad to write posts here and my newsletter (which was randomly sent) because I felt so separate from it. And since I finished my anti-graffiti project years ago I’ve felt this way, but also I just didn’t know what else to do. So I limped along. And was pretty sad.


I could go in a totally different direction, but where when I fundamentally agree that craft can be life changing? And how do I spread that word sustainably and maybe even (GASP!) make some money, something I vowed not to do when I started? Then I thought long and hard about the essence of the work. And realized they’re beautification. They’re making the world brighter through craft. They’re making you brighter through craft. They’re making the finder better through craft.


I’m ready for the protest tomorrow. #craftivism #craftivismo #embroidery #nãovaitergolpe #brazil #renunciatemer

A photo posted by Clara Beauty (@clarabeauty) on


So I realized there is such a thing as joyful activism. And that that can be craftivism too.


I wondered how would people react. And just kept making these signs. And collecting them from people all over the world. The people who made them told me how the process of making them made them feel better. About the 12th time I heard that it truly hit me that we were causing change by making these little signs. By listening to ourselves and stitching the words we truly needed to hear. Or say. Or share. 



And unlike in 2003 when it really was just me, now there are craftivists doing all sorts of work all over the world. We are Team Craftivism. And we are strong. 

And we can be joyful, too. Here’s to joyful making. And changing. And embracing our fears. 

(Also, here is Textile Center interview with Chi Nguyen about 5.4 Million And Counting.) 


Craftivism and Beautification/Yarnbombing

This is the 2nd part in a 3-part blog post, about what I’m calling The 3 -Tions* of Craftivism. (You can read about them here.) You can see the first part, on Craftivism and Donation here. The 2nd -tion of craftivism is beautification.

This is found in acts like yarnbombing. (And in scratching my head about this, I could only really think about yarnbombing, so you tell me, what am I missing?)

It’s taking your everyday surroundings in your own city and making them beautiful instead of barren.

However, I also think it comes with some responsibility to:

1. Not destroy property.
2. Check up on your work; make sure it is still in good shape from time to time.
3. Fix your work if it comes undone or someone messes with it.
4. Take down your work if it becomes too damaged to repair or it is looking unsightly!

Above, all, just remember the aim here is to beautify and make people look differently at old surroundings. A few examples:

(Photo by Flickr user casaciendias)

Knit graffiti in Sussex Lane by Magda Sayeg
(Photo by Flickr user jam_project)

(Photo by Flickr user 81740669@N04)

(Photo by Flickr user spinsandneedles)

(Photo by Flickr user cynthiaparkhill)

(Photo by Flickr user kebabette)

(Photo by Flickr user vandalog)

There are hundreds more photos of yarnbombing to peruse over at Flickr here.

And while I was looking for photos, I came across this one:

(Photo by Flickr user staycurly)

And it has me wonder if this was true. (What are your thoughts?) I think in some cases this can be true, as yarnbombing can be fluffy and full of good-natured hijinks like chick flick movies. But, should it be more? Should there be more that is strictly political to give yarnbombing more weight? Or is it lightness just enough to get people interested in their surroundings again, which is political enough?

*ETA: Spring 2015, I switched the “-tions” to “tenets.”

Craftivism Reminders from a Cat and the Buddha

It’s officially spring, but I’m watching the snow fall outside, the biggest snowfall we’ve had all year at three inches and counting! Even though it’s just gone 8am, I can hear the voices of neighborhood children yelling outside as they play in the last visit of winter this year.


I snapped the photo above in my bedroom the other weekend. I found it particularly amusing as sometimes I find that my cat teaches me as many lessons as the Buddha as I go along this thing called life. She teaches me to take a minute and just sit there for the pleasure of just being able to sit there for pleasure. She reminds me that it’s perfectly okay to take naps. She confirms that snuggling is really the best thing ever when I’m feeling a bit lonely. In short, she reminds me what it is to just be in the moment.

I started craftivism.com because, at the time (2003!), I was passionate about both crafts and activism. And I still am. People have asked me why I did it and where was I going. And I guess I was inspired by the “just be” attitude about craftivism, i.e., the notion that if you wanted to make crafts that were political and not crafts that were utilitarian, just do it. So I did it.

I was also inspired by passion, what drives someone to do something most of the time. If you and I aren’t passionate about the same thing, fine. I just want everyone to be passionate about something. And for them to hopefully take that passion and see how they can use it in the service of others and to change things for the better. Because that’s what our crafts can do and our hands can make, they can help others while also changing things!

On my most dorky introspective days, I really want people to understand their place in the world and realize how even the simplest changes and choices can do so much! When you start to become aware that your choices equal power and can constitute, foment and effect change there is not only growth within you, but also in your community. Because whether you do something craftivism related for a charity across the world or just make something for someone you know and pass it on, you are changing things.

Therefore, for my next 3 posts, I’m going to talk about the 3 “-tions”** of craftivism, as mentioned in a tweet I made recently.


In short, why these three? Because:

*DONATION: giving to anyone but yourself (using your crafts to help others)

*BEAUTIFICATION: making your public surroundings less banal (reminding others that your city is your own)

*NOTIFICATION: teaching others about the causes you believe in (making pieces that speak out against injustice in its myriad forms)

These three “-tions” as it were as the three spokes that craftivism was built upon in 2003 and continue to be today. Maybe you agree? Maybe you don’t.

But, either way, just remember that your actions can bring change, even if they seem tiny like a cat and a buddha in a bedroom. They have lessons to teach, and those lessons, depending on how you want them to sound, can be big or small, anonymous or public, or loud or quiet. You just need to remember to look and listen to what your hands want to make and to what your passion is saying to you.

**ETA: Spring 2015, I’m changing the “three -tions” to the “three tenets,” because “-tions” just sounds weird.

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