Tuesday, 24 March 2009

the final word

Once again thanks to everyone for their messages, some people even took the 'Discuss in 500 words' challenge! Excellent!

I've been agonising over what to write. I've felt a little at siege here, that there have been things taken out of context or people have chosen to read into the article what they wanted to hear (or perhaps not wanted to hear). I've written and deleted and brainstormed and have decided that what I need to write is..............

 'This is My Craft'.

My Craft is not female. My Craft contains the other 50% of the population. It is not exclusive. It is not ageist. 
My Craft is about skill, learning, improving and continuously developing. It is grounded in history and tradition. From this launch pad I can go anywhere. 
My Craft is not static. It is a journey, with many sidetracks and dead ends, many glorious vistas and many dark, winding and dangerous paths.
My Craft is how I make my living. Making is hard and dirty work. It is exhausting and physical. It injures and tires.
My Craft makes my heart sing. If I could not create I would not be me.  My Craft is not your Craft.
My Craft is Me.

Ok, let's ditch the 'poetry' and talk turkey.
I do not see criticism about craft as being knocking other women (as you see My Craft is not restricted to women only- I'm quite open to criticising craft made by men too!). I've written quite a bit about Feminism throwing the baby out with the bathwater- cooking and handiwork are disenfranchising women's work, don't do them! Get a job! This lead to a whole generation devoid of craft skill, a new generation of conspicuous consumers. These conspicuous consumers are now spending their money on craft products. I worry that craft's new fashionable face will not last and that it has gone hand-in-hand with an unrealistic 'frilly-apron-cupcake-sugar-plum-fairy' view of craft. Maybe it is payback for Feminism turning it's back on craft.

I am not one of those people who think that you should get a certificate just for turning up. How about a certificate for quality and effort and originality? That would mean something! Learning to be critical and analytical are very good skills, they are how we improve and how we develop in our perception of the world. Yes criticism can be demoralising but it can also build you up and spur you on to other more exciting adventures. Some people wrote that they couldn't do their craft after reading the article, that they didn't feel good enough. Well I say get a backbone and prove us all wrong! Interestingly those that felt the whole article was positive were for the most part people who have been making for a long time, that have developed a confidence in their work, they did not feel threatened. So this comes to the 'how long have you been crafting?' issue- there are no awards for length of time making and doing but these more often than not correlate with skill levels. Skills are accumulative. The longer you do them (hopefully) the better you'll be at them. So sorry, I've changed my mind, you do get a medal for how long you've been crafting. 

I've decided that I'm not going to look at blogs for a few days (except for those of a few close friends) and that I might only post about what I'm making for a little while. This whole issue has taken a lot of energy and I am actually hoping that in the long run all these discussions lead to people viewing craft in ways they haven't done before.

I saw a bit of the David and Kristen Williamson interview on the 7.30 Report this evening. David made this comment and I think that it is probably a good way to end. 

"If you put your work out there, you must be prepared to be criticised."


  1. I can understand why you might have felt a little under siege as I think some people have responded very personally to the debate. However I think it is unfortunate. You have generated a really great debate and as your closing sentence says "if you put your work out there, you must be prepared to be criticised". Aren't words just another form of your work?

    It seems that you have really strong opinions about contemporary craft and are well placed to generate discussion. What I think is truly wonderful is the fact that the discussion is happening at the coal face and not within the confines of a policy makers framework. It adds a level of passion and rawness that is somewhat uncomfortable and completely valuable.

    I don't think you should see yourself as being at the centre of this discussion even though your were a catalyst for its beginning.

  2. Firstly, I want to say thanks for your Cuppa post. I have taken away some strong and meaningful information that I wish was around 20 years ago when I was trying to define my role in the Art/Craft field.
    Secondly, don't stop blogging if you've got something informative to say. We need all the insights possible, so we can use what we find relevant to form our own crafting identity.
    Thirdly, I strongly believe in the power of the unique and innovative.
    If craft can keep striving to be wonderful, beautiful and thought provoking, there is room for all crafters to achieve what ever goal they wish, be they retailing their product, making craft for love and sanity, or just learning a new skill.
    I still haven’t reached where I want to be in my crafting /jewelling world, but I like the challenge of refining, improving and evolving.
    I believe Craft should be an evolution rather than a revolution.

  3. I just sat down and read your blog, hope you're not feeling too under attack, it's good! I think it's positive and even helpful.

    I think it's hard writing things down, people read meanings SO differently.

    Pah, blogs. If you weren't offending someone, you wouldn't be saying anything!

  4. Dude,

    where are these offensive comments?

    Jesus, trust me to be in a jam frenzy when the craft world finally explodes.

  5. Good, informative post. Thank you.

    There is a lot of cupcaking in the knitting world, too. Patterns that shouldn't be, patterns being copied or ripped off, no proper attribution, mediocre patterns for sale. It's quite sad, actually.

  6. Thank you for writing sense. Making a living out of making things is a hard slog. Kudos to you.

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