Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Reclaiming Craft Article for Amelia's Magazine

Reclaiming Craft

The act of Making

Under, over, under, over… who would have thought a spot of weaving could help me feel better? These past few weeks have been some of the most stressful of my life as a designer living in London. Worries about my degree work, money and job hunting have caused huge amounts of stress and, as I’m sure many would agree, we all need a bit of escape once in while.

Perhaps unusually, I’ve turned to crafting. I’m using a weaving loom brooch I made, to relieve my current feelings of anguish. I’ve always been a crafter and I’ve always turned to creative expression as an antedote to life’s pressures. I chose my graduating year as a design student at Goldsmiths to explore my relationship with craft further. After all, craft’s recent resurgence in popularity can be identified as a reaction to current circumstances. The craft trend highlights the importance of homemaking in people’s lives.

During this time of recession it seems logical to ‘make’ more. If you’re strapped for cash but want a new outfit why not try and make one? For me, the perfect alternative to a days shopping with the girls is a crafty party. Offering situations for discussion, laughter, relaxation and production, the beauty of these parties is no one has to be an expert; everyone can learn off each other and inspire each other.

The parties celebrate our natural instinct to make with our hands, and we gain a sense of achievement from the production of a handmade object. There’s something hugely satisfying in wearing something you made and you’re proud of. Hosting crafty parties led me to the realisation that craft could be powerful. Now I just needed to convince more people!

I designed to encourage the crafter in everyone. I made a series of ‘craft in transit’ garments allowing the wearer to be creative whenever and wherever the mood takes them. The crafty dress holds a variety of tools, and when worn and used forms a space and opportunity for creation. These portable tools for creative expression allow the wearer to make use of times of unproductivity. Using a portable weaving loom whilst the bus you’re sitting on is stuck in traffic is a rewarding experience. Although there might be a few strange looks, the ability to be creative avoids the feelings of frustration usually given when using public transport. Equally, wearing your crafty ring to the pub to meet your mates makes crafting both recreational and fashionably different.

By reclaiming craft we leave behind its traditional past and we celebrate its contemporary relevance. Craft offers a cheap and creative alternative to our over-consumption, and I believe by turning to craft during these stressful times we can celebrate ourselves as creative individuals, as makers, as designers. So why not host a crafty party this weekend, go ahead, make stuff – I’ll soon be doing a how-to guide right here at Amelia’s Magazine if you need some ideas!

Check out my website for more information and to buy my crafty jewellery, www.esterkneen.com.

See the article on the Amelia's Website

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