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?
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.
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’ve done some “random acts of crafting” before…leaving some crafted piece out in the world for someone to take home. These pieces (they remind me of coasters, but could be just signs too) are headed for that same fate. Somewhere out there is a person who needs these messages and I hope they read and take the message to heart…and enjoy the coaster or sign. #yasvb #craftivism #raok
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.
A photo posted by Maria Arseniuk (@femme.broidery) on
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.