Of the myriad communities on the internet, I can't think of one that could possibly be kinder, more friendly, sharing or caring than They Who Craft. Not unless there's a Myspace group called Heavenly Angels at the Right Hand of God.
Crafters get to the Heart of Things. They share, teach, swap, send gifts, and support one another. They have to. Their vocation is to make the world a more beautiful place. They need all the help they can get.
They find their materials in op shops, garage sales, on the beach, in the garden, occaisonally even falling from the sky and hitting them on the head. They encounter all things with an eye to how they might utilize, enhance and adapt. They're thrifty and hate waste, as did their mothers, and their mothers, and their mothers before them. It's always been this way.
But they also love to save, to rescue. A good crafter can spot a handmade doily, swatch of kimono fabric, or well-preserved handknit (and tell you what fibre it's made from) at a hundred paces, out of a pile 20 feet high, in a dimly lit back room, not 10 minutes before they have to pick the kids up from school. They will pay their last 2 bucks to rescue it, take it home, gaze lovingly at it, and then put it away.
Some considerable time later, they will take it out again, wash it, felt it, embroider it, cover it in wire and beads, put a zip in it, attach an adjustable handle, slip cast it, oxyweld a brooch-back onto it, and cover it in glitter.
It will be magnificent. One of a kind. Never to be repeated, at least not quite the same way, ever again. Hours of thought, pondering, working, fucking up, lamenting, undoing, and fixing have gone into it. A part of themselves, too, never to be replaced.
Then, when it's all done, they will either give it away to Some Deserving Person, or sell it for an outrageously small fraction of what it's worth, in order to scrape together the cash to make something else. If it's good, it will probably be ripped off, sent to a Third World country, copied, sent back as a knockoff, and sold in the same shop that stocked the original, for a third of the price. liana kabel
Most people think Crafters are nuts. Potty, whimsical and eccentric, at best. Cracked, spooky and best avoided, at worst. Maybe they're right. I know it takes a certain degree of obsessiveness to see an idea through to completion, and a demented level of fervour to start such an ambitious project in the first place. Crafting takes time, lots and lots of time. And so much patience. Neither are highly valued, anymore.
Crafters are patronised, excluded and ignored by the Art World. What we do is too home-oriented and kitsch for High Art, too grass roots in it's aspiration, too unsophisicated in it's intention. I have had my work removed from exhibitions under pressure from other artists, on the grounds it didn't the fit the media parameters of 'Fine Art', ie. it was embroidered rather than painted or drawn. In short, it was Only Craft, and was therefore diminishing the calibre of the collection. At the time, I found the arrogance and snobbery of this argument hilariously funny, but I am also bewildered by it to this day.
Laugh at craft, by all means.
We will happily laugh with you.
But sneer, condescend, exploit or, most craven of all, steal our ideas and pass them off as your own, you thieving bastards, you know who you are, and we will curse you. A curse to haunt you for lifetimes to come. And then turn our backs on you forever, to concentrate on the Good People in This World.
Real crafters are dedicated, honest people, spinning dreams, and working their arses off. Nay-sayers and parasites kill our high, make us miserable, stop us from working. And that's a Very Bad Thing. One of the reasons we lock ourselves away and make things is to avoid the company of People Like That. We don't do it for fame, fortune, or glory (though a little fortune, occasionally, wouldn't go astray). Hell, we don't even sign our own work most of the time, it's so not about ego.
Crafters craft because they must. They are driven by a blind desire to create Gorgeous Things. Things that take time and patience and love.
Things designed to reach people,
break your heart,
draw you closer, until it rests against your cheek,
because it's just so beautiful.
Crafters try to bring a little of the Divine into the real world with everything they make. As a gospel singer might describe it, they sing it down, during the hours and hours of meditative work involved in each piece.
To do this gives our lives meaning.
It makes life worth living.
I wax sentimental, and I haven't even been drinking. Forgive me. But I had a toy named after me today, and it's made me all mooshy. Thanks, Leah, beer-pulling craftbanger and Keeper of Country Cemetery, for letting me know.
And thank you, Dawn, whom, like so many supportive people in my life, I have never even met.