Monday, August 15, 2011

Making It Handmade

I watched and thoroughly enjoyed Making it Handmade last night, a short film by Anna Brownfield focusing on the Melbourne's local craft scene. As well as being really encouraged by the number of crafty folk there obviously are around town, it gave me a lot of food for thought about what crafting in the twenty-first century actually is about - and it's quite a long way from the common cry that crafters want to be like 1950s housewives. Certainly crafting women today are reclaiming the skills of other generations but because they choose to, not because they have to because it is their perceived womanly duty (to paraphrase Gemma Jones, who was one of the interviewees).

As an extension of this, I am thinking today about how I can make what I make in more environmentally friendly ways and with more of the 'cottage industry' ethos in mind. As it was pointed out by Rayne Fahey (again to paraphrase), there's not much point going to the trouble of making it handmade with cheap acrylic wool from China when there is gorgeous local wool products to be had (from the Bendigo Woollen Mills, for example, as was also pointed out - I've just been to their website - beautiful looking yarn)

So my thoughts at the moment are crafting with more of a conscience - not just moving away from buying to making by buying to make. It might cost a little more, I don't know yet, but I'll try buying more local supplies and even perhaps making my own beads for my jewellery making. I'll keep you posted on my progress. Ironically enough, all this coincided with a visit to an enormous local shopping mall yesterday, which my husband and I emerged from irritable and dismayed by the buy, buy, buy mentality.

What do you think?

PS Making It Handmade will still be on ABC 2 I-View if you live locally.


Bodecea said...

I have mixed feelings about the "handcraft-scene". On the one hand, I really enjoy doing things by my own and be able to do this and that. There are not SO many things, but I know two women who do a lot by themselves - from the rebuilding of an old house ecological, making cheese from milk from a neighbour farmer, their own apple wine, etc. I understand well, too, when people knit their own warm socks (maybe from local wool the spin themselves) - great! (but knitting and stuff is nothing for me ;-)).

What I do not understand so well is spend very very much time in fabrication decorative stuff which is only cute but not needed or can be used in any way (for example to be sold). Only stick and knit and do needlework for nice things lying around - why? I sometimes have the feeling of a thinking like "Most important I am busy, not only sitting around". Don't know but I think sitting around (better - walking around. Or reading) is a very good occupation. I don't have to be "useful" all the time, producing things ;-)

I am not agaist a drop-out-mentality - I am myself too exhausted to look for new fight areas in political or feminist matters - but I think it is a bit a biedermeier-thing. Not going on the streets for your rights, but knitting socks at home. It's very popular in Germany to glorify the "Landleben", look for the "heile Welt" in a weekend home in the countryside and/or do "old farmer stuff". But it is only some kind of fake, a bit decoration for a high-tec life. Hm.

Not an easy question...

Diana Kennedy said...

@Bodeccea: handcrafting something that is just decorative but not really useful may be a way of "not being useful" - when just sitting around doesn't do the job.

What is beyond my comprehension tough, is how these products can be sold. I mean, these are things that you either enjoy because someone who made them offers it to you or because you made it yourself. In other words: There must be a personal link to it. But buying them?? But I'm obviously in the minority with this feeling. handcrafted art sells very well at craft fairs.

As for going out on the street and fighting for rights, well, as far as I am concerned, I'm too tired for this as well.

My mom took me with her on walks to fight for the women's right to vote in Switzerland in a time women were not allowed to.
And today "emmanze" is an insult -mostly used by women.

I think the longing for nice, bucholic Biedermaier Idylls is one of the more harmless phenomenons.

Feronia said...

@ Bodecea -

Thanks for your interesting comments but I'm afraid I can't agree that the craft scene - at least, how it is represented in Australia - has anything to do with a "drop-out mentality" or a "Biedermeier" attitude. I can only see creativity and productivity as enormously positive things, and absolutely an important antidote to "this high-tech life". And don't forget William Morris:"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." So there is always room for the practical *and* the beautiful.

@ Diana -
Thank you too for your interesting comments! Again though I cannot agree that it's strange that handcrafted products should be sold. Why not? In my view, they are either practical items (which others will find useful) or forms of artistic expression (to be sold like any other form of artistic expression).

Bodecea said...

@Diana - handcrafting as a way "not to be useful" - good thought thank you!

@Feronia - please don't feel attacked by my thoughts! I don't know the Australian handcraft-scene and I am a retro person myself (60ties-80ties when the world was so colourful and happy - and men were allowed to rape their wives, when the Rhine river was dead and the woods were dying...). But this theme makes me think a lot at the moment. I ask myself a lot - why am I doing this or that and wanting this or that? And what is the outcome of it? Does it change me, my family, my friends, the society around me?
Maybe I just have a lack of a longing for (wo)man made beauty in all-day articles. I adore beauty in nature and, sometimes, in art (writing, painting, music), but beautiful clothes and stuff do not interest me. Maybe too much Testosteron?!!!


Feronia said...

@ Bodecea -

I'm not sure how that helps me not to feel attacked! Let's just agree to disagree on this one!