crafty buggers: the great craft debate

by kath_red on 24/03/2009

in Community + Creativity

Just read an interesting article in the paper – crafty buggers – mixtape mashup referred to it. A close up on craft in the current craft climate age – looking at the different factions in the craft world.

One issue which was raised was quality craftsmanship (skill and pride in the perfection of the design and the quality of the work) v’s hobbyist so-so craftmanship (while pursuing all the other reasons people craft such as charity, giving, making a buck, making a statement, politics and ideas etc…)

Whatever your status as professional/amateur, trained/self-taught – the main thing seems to be the enjoyment of crafting as well as the ethical factor of selling good quality work.

I was interested to read in the article Pene Durston’s thoughts – I took time to read her blog – with articles on copycat crafting and cupcake crafting (a great analogy) and are all issues we are dealing with, Pene is on the ‘quality craftsmanship if you plan to sell your work’ side of the fence, and has a good argument to support her strong feelings, she says:

“I am not prepared to sell poor quality or useless products, a crafted product should be a quality product.” … Could all those hobby professionals out there please look to the quality, originality and -and I hate to say it – the pricing of their work? Take pride in what you make, take pride in the how it is made and take pride in being part of a long and important tradition. … Please enjoy your craft but please remember we are not all equal.”

Pip from Meet me at Mikes, a local shop selling all kinds of quirky and interesting handmade items says

“I like crap craft and I like skilled craft too. I just think everyone should have access to making things without worrying about what other people are going to say about their work.”

Like any industry, Pene is correct in saying that we are not all equal. Its a new age and all of us crafters are are trying their hand and finding their niche, and if you don’t have perfect stitches (and I sure do admire quality work when I see it), if you are self-taught, then really so what – there are other qualities that are also important and this is where the art v’s craft debate rages – ideas over craftsmanship.

But if you sell your crafty endeavours, then you go from being an amateur to being a professional, and that is when you are putting yourself and your workmanship on the line and up for comment.

Of course buyers are not stupid – and the market will usually sort itself out – those that survive will be the ones whose work is appreciated for its humour, skill or style. And like one commenter on the Radical Cross Stitch blog pointed out:

“Yes, there is a prevalence of ‘crap’ being made and sold but at least it’s crap being made by us and used by us, on our terms and not crap being made in sweatshops and sold to us by mass media campaigns designed to make us feel inadequate.”

What do you think?

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