a very large hint..

What do you get when you cross..

Louise Brooks




Just wait & see…


it’s bingo time!

Gentle readers, you will have to forgive me today. This may yet turn into a Force Seven rant, so I advise you to make sure those hatches are battened down, all small and easily excitable children and animals are seen to etc etc etc.

There are some attitudes to crafting (and indeed, those of us who do so) that I fail utterly to understand:

  • Craft is an anti-feminist, retrograde enterprise and women who craft are not feminist or are setting back the cause by doing so
  • People only craft/do things for themselves now because it is trendy, not out of any form of necessity, and they certainly didn’t grown up doing so
  • Most people who craft just make silly needless little tchotckes that are amateurish, poorly made and a waste of materials
  • Craft is a waste of time when you can buy everything readymade
  • People who craft do so because they aren’t capable of anything more high-minded/intellectual/worthwhile
  • Crafters are white, relentlessly middle-class trendy/hipsterish types

A few of these attitudes crop up in this article (published in the Observer yesterday), but the main one that caught my eye is that the last one mentioned. Those of us who craft *apparently* only do so because we are unwilling or incapable (mostly the latter but also both) of doing anything more serious. You know, worthwhile. Knocking out shapeless jumpers in front of the Late Late (oh, Fintan, such fail!) instead of reading, or running businesses, or.. well, something *useful*:

“But I am uncomfortable with the subtext to some of the more modish incarnations of doing things with your hands. Why do women want to embroider when they could be reading Hegel?”

This article is hardly the worst offender. It does hit the main knocking-craft bingos mentioned i.e. crafters waste their time making rubbish (“Why do people insist on bedecking their houses with homemade candles and old mirrors adorned by an inept mosaic frame, when all these things are clearly both hideous and slightly creepy?”), crafting is boring and takes a long time and is not usually worth the bother (“Luckily, I already have a scarf. I bought it with money I had earned by going to work instead of staying at home and making things.”) and aren’t people only doing it because it’s trendy? (the “modish” reference above) but it saves us most of the more sexist, classist and patronising assumptions and inferences, I suppose.

I’m not so thin-skinned that these attitudes upset me or put me off, but I find them desperately tired and boring. Change the record, please! I’ve no interest in trotting out my intellectual/’useful’ bona fides just to prove a point. I make things from necessity, because I love to do so, because of curiosity and largely because for me, a day without making things or experimenting is not my kind of day. My crafting kin have these reasons and more for what they do. We’re not represented in the prevailing narratives; we’re not bored and witless fashionistas, and neither do we pine for a time when women knew their place. We’re curious about the world, we love history, we love colour theory, we love the communal element of crafting and most of all, we love the satisfaction of something well-made, long-lasting and utterly, utterly unique.

oh Mefi, how do I love thee?

On a note related to my previous post, I posted a question over at Ask Metafilter looking for unusual, obscure and plain weird crafts I could try.

I love Metafilter- a rich, dusty attic of a site (or group of sites, rather), full of posts themselves filled with the beautiful, silly, obscure, interesting, well-executed. And that’s before I even trawl the ‘craft’ posts..

One of the members who contributes most on crafting is orange swan. A cursory look at her posts on crafting uncovers many treasures, to the point where I appear to be her stalker. Yes, appear. It’s not like I’m in her wheelie bin, scavenging for-

Where was I? Right. Metafilter good, death threats not quite as good.. death threats? Seriously? On this one, I really liked what taz had to say:

Can a gorgeous hand-woven shawl made from handspun yarn be as beautiful as an achingly poignant poem, or painting, or film? To me, yes. And bad work is as bad as other bad work… and equally snark-worthy.

By being as willing to snark about craftwork as anyone else is about other commercial artistic pursuits, I think that Jacquilynne was actually honoring this particular field of creativity more than those who feel that they are above affording it any serious attention at all.

so many crafts, so little time..

“So much to do, so little done, such things to be.”- Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

I’m not usually one for Tennyson, but in that one line, he summed up one of the main double-edged swords of the human experience. That drive to do, to see, to experience is wonderful, for sure- but one is always left with the feeling that there is so much more to do and so little done.

I saw this quote the other day, but on seeing it again, the mind turns to matters crafting. (How’s that for a segue?) All the crafts I’ve never tried- isn’t it time I got started on that list? Here are just some of the ones I’ve discovered that look intriguing, as well as links to artists who have made the technique their own.

WaterMemory’s Steadily Growing List of Craft Techniques to Try (Pardon The Excess of Wiki Links)

tatting: look at the beautiful results in this Etsy shop!

kumihimo: as seen in Bead & Button recently

quilling: again, an Etsy shop sees amazing results

chainmaille (or chainmail?): another gorgeous shop

– ceramics: look at the use of colour here! Beautiful stuff

– lace-making: I particularly like the Bruges style and picked up a couple of samples when I was there

– book-binding: brilliant tutorial here

bliss, I tells ya!

What with one thing and another, the aul’ crafting has taken a hit in recent weeks. There hasn’t been as much time as usual to follow my bliss, alas, even with the happy discovery of Edinburgh’s spots of pure crafting heaven (a wool shop with couches and cupcakes! an embroidery shop! beeeeeeeeeads!).

However, last night I finally got a chance to stop a while with my newest beady purchases and a diet fit to sustain any crafter- stem ginger cookies, raspberry jelly and Earl Grey (Maman, if you’re reading this, I had a proper dinner first. Honest).

I am aaaaaallll about shell and freshwater pearls at the moment, so apart from a simple pair of sterling silver chandelier earrings with red coral Swarovski (photos forthcoming), I started work on a multistrand necklace using deep green shell ‘coins’, jet Swarovski bicones and sterling silver.

However, I’m mostly using the shell in very simple pieces. Nothing sings for me like the simplicity of paua shell on silver- maybe with some black accents to tone with the banding that is found in really good pieces of paua. Simplicity is powerful.

in another’s shoes

We all of us have a particular wellspring that we continually draw upon in our work- sources of inspiration, rules for doing. It can be anything from working a lot/ mostly in a particular colour or group of colours to the kinds of things that one generally makes, or even the preferred way of working.

For me, it’s largely unconscious- I just find myself drawn to greens, blues and purples most of all (although I use materials in almost every colour under the sun), to crystal and glass. Lately though, I’ve been wondering about the merit of introducing something completely different- new materials or techniques, or a new place to craft- to see what would come out of that.

So, thing the first: I challenge myself to create something in a colour I’ve never used before. (The only one I can think of is buttercup yellow.) Thing the second: I challenge myself to find some focal beads I would never normally be drawn to, and create pieces to showcase them.

I’ll post the results of my mini-experiments here shortly.

making the time

Working full-time and crafting- although it certainly helps to support the habit (I’m one bead-shaped package away from having my very own Intervention [tm]), it does tend to cut down on the time to follow one’s Muse, so to speak. It’s a feast-or-famine thing round these parts- my evenings are either bead-free or bead-filled, but never without something crafty (even if it is just a session of glassy-eyed drool- ahem, I of course meant to say “acquiring supplies”).

Every so often, I take a full day to craft. I lay out my supplies, pattern books and inspiration book and see what happens. On occasion, it ends in Youtube-mining sessions and raspberry jelly. More often than not though, it’s pretty productive.

The last crafty day I had was absolutely glorious- old films (Bringing Up Baby and Sunset Boulevard), music (Blue States and Velvet Underground in the main), nibbles (what crafty day is right without chocolate, bottomless cups of tea and fruit?) and the splendid chaos of boxes of beads, rolls of stringing and books all around. I made several pieces in the space of a day- when that magical alchemy of mood and inspiration is with you, it’s a fine thing indeed.

Those days are precious indeed, but at the same time, it can mean that things are dependent on the hoary old “When I get time..” line. What time is better than now(ish)?