I knew there was a connection between web & craft! The New York Times recently published an article called ‘Handmade 2.0′ about the new-wave DIY culture, taking the snobbery and commerciality out of design and putting it back into the hands of individual crafters. They start by quoting the statement of intent from buyhandmade.org website, saying that it echoes “the idealistic language of a tree-hugger activist group” but then goes onto say that its most prominent member is the virtual craft fair Etsy – a very much for-profit organisation.
The full article’s a bit lengthy so you can read a precis of it on Mike Press’ blog. Mike sums it up: “The article argues that the new handmade movement is an explicitly ideological movement that has profound implications for consumerism, and seeks to develop sustainable economies based on craft production.”
The Denver Post published a shorter, less analytical article last year called ‘Crafting Political Messages‘. Hey, there must be something in the air!
I saw a programme about John Ruskin the other night and bells started ringing here … I haven’t read too much of his theory, but he was writing at the time of the industrial revolution, when the creativity was being taken out of the hands of the craftsman and given to the corporations commissioning the art/architecture. His solution (along with other Victorian neo-gothic supporters such as William Morris, George Edmund Street, Pugin etc) was go to take elements of medieval architecture and give the power back to the individual craftsman.
The world has recently undergone another revolution, technical and commercial, and individuals are once again fighting the corporates to get control of the environment they live in, clothes they wear, gifts they give, furniture they sit on etc. This is a pretty stealthy revolution, but it feels like it’s gaining momentum. It doesn’t have the dire threat and warnings of the green movement but it comes from the heart.
For a couple of good examples of politicised craftspeople, try Lisa Anne Auerbach’s site StealThisSweater.com, Craftivism and Microrevolt.
Long live the craft revolution!