Tag Archives | craftivism definition

I, Craftivist.

I’m going to admit it. Whenever I see people writing about craftivism in a “we” sense, I get a bit squirrelly. Why? Because of why the term isn’t copyrighted. Because of individuality. Because of concepts instead of constructs. I envisioned it more of a group “I” term instead of a “we” term. A group of individually reached “Is” who form a larger “we.”

But then again, ideas aren’t copyrighted, as they shouldn’t be. (Want an example? Read more about the Bikram yoga controversy.) It’s in the public domain, yes. But it’s weird to have an idea that you championed from scratch suddenly be defined by other people… in ways you don’t necessarily agree. And even weirder when theory is written of “craftism” which is a word derived from a misspelling!

It’s totally dumb to feel proprietary to something, but having it misused and misconstrued really does bother me. And I feel childish for getting annoyed by something so petty, although watching something that is so integral to your life and way of being (Because to me that’s what it’s all about. Embracing your life at the place between the creative process -craft- and positive change -activism- and going forth boldly and strongly to make the world a better place.) be misunderstood is hard.

At the end of the day, craftivism is just a way to explain how you feel with one word instead of many, and little else. Maybe I just have to formally realize that it’s all grown up and needs to make its own way in the world. I just feel bad I didn’t give it more of a solid sense of self earlier before it struck out in this world by itself, because it has deep and well-meaning roots. And I hope that on its way, its original values and ideals are not swept aside. And that it’s taken care of and moved forward with love and creativity and wonder and kindness.

That being said, receiving emails and reading about works that invoke just what I was hoping (using craft and activism for good!) warms my heart to no end. I am always so amazed when people tell me their stories or actions or whatever and how they are pushing the world to wake up, look deeper, love harder and are willing to explore the goodness that happens when creativity and wish for positive growth/change meet. This is what I hope stays with it going forward, that its aim remains true and good and chock full of love.

Craftivism vs. Craftism, and the Quest For Uniquity.

Ok, I’ll admit it. I have no idea what “craftism” is.

I do, however, know what “craftivism” is.

The word “craftivism” came into my life by way of a conversation about “craft” and “activism,” seeing the similarity and opposition in these words as culturally defined, I started using a “craft activism” hybrid. A friend of mine at a knitting circle actually combined the two words into one way back in 2002.

I’m not sure what happens when you start writing about a theory and then thanks to making up a weird looking word, it is commonly spelled missing a few letters instead of the word you started out with! However, if you have an idea of what “craftism” is, I’d be well chuffed to hear its definition. I would argue that the “-ivism” part of the equation is pretty imperative because it denotes craft’s connection to activism, instead of it glomming on a different “-ism” like Marxism or Taoism or veganism.

Bizarrely, Google seems to whip right on by the missing letters…which makes little sense to me as normally it’s hypersensitive?

I often get asked what was going on at the time that made me start connecting “craft” and “activism.” In the next few posts, I’m going to expand a bit of the various cultural trends that seem to have a whole heck of a lot to do with why this whole craft resurgence happened in the first place!

Thanks to the convergence of the quest for uniquity, annoyance at the banality of materialism and the mall/superstore presence, the internet erasing geographic boundaries and the reclamation of the domestic thoughts began to run to making and sewing and knitting and crafting crafting crafting! On a lesser scale, I would argue that a need for the tactile was craved, too. This marked a strange point in time where people were really excited to see what technology could do, but perhaps secretly hoping that teleporting would just be invented already so we could get a hug instead of :)

A lot of times when I bring up the reasons above, more explanation is requested, so here’s the first of 5 posts, with the others soon to follow.

The quest for uniquity

No one likes to show up at a party wearing the same dress as someone else in attendance. Well, up until the Industrial Revolution clothes were made by hand and as a result didn’t come off of the same rack as things were tweaked for specific body types or styles.

Then all of a sudden advances in the how textiles were manufactured came along and clothing was mass produced and you could eventually pop down to the shop on the corner and buy a shirt or stockings instead of crafting them on your own. I can’t even imagine how much of a relief this must have been! Of course, this is a whipquick run-through, as some individuals (the number varying on changes in economics, culture, politics) have continuously been handcrafting their clothes.

Eventually the hype of popping down the corner for that shirt wore off a bit and some people wanted more control of their clothes and wanted a say in color, design and weight of what they wore! In the first few years of this century, a push began starting a craft resurgence that was heavily boosted by people wanting to create what they wore instead of picking them off a on over-stuffed rack. Instead of being annoyed that their favorite store didn’t have the sweater they wanted in orange and only had it in red and green and blue, people were starting to create what wasn’t available to them instead of settling for a product they only halfway wanted anyway because their own vision wasn’t displayed before them in a shop window.

Also, how has the film short The Last Knit evaded me until now?!

*Amazingly, this version of the post is a micro-version of the original. Think of these posts more of elevator speech definitions, although I always love to talk about the nitty gritty details if you’re up for it.

craftivism definition. (the early years)

My words about craftivism were used in a definition of the term the other day for Planetgreen.com’s Green Glossary. Reading it has been making me think of the exact origins of the term when I started wondering about it.

After kind of guessing when I started talking about craftivism, I looked through some old writing and discovered the following. The days when craftivism had 2 hits over on Google. (Those 2 hits were about a workshop being held by the Church of Craft.) I love that thousands of miles apart, “the word,” in 2002, was being thought about. That the combination of 2 disparate and negatively defined words were bubbling together in other minds than mine.

Now there are many, many more. I’m working on a history of things and it makes me so happy to know that what I wrote one morning many years ago wasn’t completely crazy. And: No, I didn’t get the internship and I’m still not the best sleeper. Yes, I still have giant unruly hair…and I still aspire to one day have a real beehive.

[As for the photos in this post, they are pages I made 4 years ago after taking some photographs of a London squat a friend was living in. The wordy bits were me trying to distill the idea of craftivism into as few words as possible. Clicking on the images will make them easier to see.]

Ow. My brain hurts. After 3 hours of sleep and much much coffee, I started to write a proposal for this journal I’m trying to get an internship with. Part of the application has to be a proposal for their forum.

So I started writing.

About Reagan-era music and Riot Grrrl, how if the past trends were true, then with a Republican in the White House, we should have some kickass music a la Bikini Kill, Tribe 8, the D[ead] K[ennedys]. So, where is it?

I proposed that craft is the new activism.

How the creation of things by hand leads to a better understanding of democracy, because it reminds us that we have power.

The problem is, I’m so tired that I can’t tell if this theory is full of shite or not. It might just be one of those things that only makes sense to me because I’m sleep deprived.

At last, it’s Friday. It’s so sad, I’ve been falling asleep at 8pm and sleeping through the night atleast one night a week. Don’t get me wrong, I always feel excellent the next day, but it’s cutting down seriously on getting things done.

Still obsessed with the craft and activism connection. Am I wrong in thinking that cross-stitching something like a throw pillow/t-shirt with “Attack Iraq? No!” or some such other slogan is a subversive act? I think that in taking the time to *cross-stitch* something rather than write it with a pen, you are making a statement. I could be wrong, though.

I am also still excited that I got my hair into a faux beehive last week. Need more big hair inspiration.

And….in book news, thanks so much for the kind words and emails, they have been so lovely! And so many great stories you have told me of knitting wonderful things for good!

Currently there is a signed copy of my book over at Linda Permann’s Etsy fundraising drive for Jasenn, her brother-in-law. Jasenn (who is 34 and has a wife and a toddler son) was recently diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer. Do check out the shop, and purchase something to help Jasenn’s family Hope for Jasenn.

Among other wonderful things for sale, there are also signed copies of Susan Beal’s Bead Simple and Kayte Terry’s Complete Embellishing. Both of these books are by amazingly talented crafters who want you to know that yes, you can take back your wardrobe!

a little bit more about why…

Why craftivism?
Because we create to connect beyond ourselves. Whether it’s next door or across the globe. Craft and activism both take and inspire passion. When used as a joint force, they can quite possibly begin to slowly challenge and change things.

Why now?
Because as many of us are trying to figure out ‘What next?’ We are moving from our teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond and we are realizing that the act (and art) of crafting is more than a passing fad or childs’ play or a backlash to early-90s Riot Grrrl politics. Craft is a way of rejoicing, passing time, meditating, harnessing power, sharing and keeping creative forces in motion.

Because it is possible to go beyond banners, email petitions and chants as ways of fighting for a cause you believe in. You could have a knit-in, papier-mache puppets, teach a crafty class for kids- all ways of turning that energy into a more positive, more useful, force. Atrocities are happening in our front yards and on our televisions and we need to find ways to react against what is happening without either giving up or exploding.

This is less about mass action or more about realizing what you can do to makes things around you better.


what is craftivism?

Ok. So this is currently just a weblog. But, hot damn!, there is something here!

Some of you have heard me talk about this idea for months. I have a lot of different ideas, but thought I’d open the floor one more time to see what you would like to see here.

My whole idea for this site is based on the idea that activism + craft = craftivism. That each time you participate in crafting you are making a difference, whether it’s fighting against useless materialism or making items for charity or something betwixt and between.

The idea that activists can be crafters, and crafters can be activists.

In the works right now are plans for: a links section (send me your links!) where you can get information about different craft and activism resources, pictures of people’s projects, a blog (though not on the main page, if I can get my act together), and hopefully mini interviews with people who are doing craftivism type thingies.

Thanks for being patient.


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