CraftStylish Roundtable: Crafting in the Current Economy

comments (1) October 31st, 2008     

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MichaelaMurphy Michaela Murphy, contributor
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Does your creativity help you to craft through a crisis?

Does your creativity help you to craft through a crisis?

Photo: Michaela Murphy

My crafty sidekick, Jen Worick, and I have been getting together to knit, sew, and watch TV lately. As we stare at the tube watching the Dow plunge and political pundits pander, we have both noted that the crafting taking place in our hands has taken on a poignant urgency—or is it just neurosis? I'm kidding, but only a little. The current crisis in our country has us thinking about how we spend our time and money, literally. We feel especially lucky to be a part of a vibrant craft community and that got us wondering: How are you doing? What do you think?

Introducing the CraftStylish Roundtable. Each week we will pose a question to the CraftStylish commmunity, and then you can post your responses or questions below and tell us what's on your mind. This week's question is:

Do you see crafting as a way/means towards coping with current economic conditions?

Here's what a few of the CraftStylish bloggers had to say:

Mary Ray:

I think crafting goes beyond making cute things. Crafting—which can be equated with creativity—is about finding the best way to deal with everyday situations. To be called “crafty” can have both negative and positive connotations. I subscribe to the positive ones— “on the ball,” clever, wise, insightful. Crafty people have these attributes and are ready to face whatever—good times and bad. When you’re crafty, you possess the ability to see the alternatives, the possibilities, to use what you have available, and to make the most out of whatever that is. True crafters seem to succeed creatively, whether they’re making artful utilitarian items or things that are simply beautiful and meant to warm the heart. Most crafts are dependent on specific tools. All crafts are done with hands. Knowing that you can create something with your own hands develops confidence and that’s what can get us through any situation.

Shannon Dennis:

Ha-ha...well I think my answer is pretty fresh/raw to this question. Crafting is not only allowing me the traditional pleasures of self and creative expression but is allowing me to earn a living to supplement what my husband's lost job took away. It is allowing me to still give my friends gifts on their birthdays and my sisters a Christmas gift. Put food on the table and literally keep my sewing machine running!

Jeffrey Rudell:

Setting aside for the moment that some of the commercial work I do requires and/or allows me to invest substantial sums of money in raw materials, most of my materials are humble—merely paper—and wherever possible, recycled or reclaimed paper, at that. This is one of the great joys of crafting for me. Nothing thrills me half as much as taking an inexpensive material and some simple tools, applying some time and creativity, and through that simple act, imbuing the results with value.

As seen through the lens of the current economic crisis, this might appear to be an exercise in frugality. As well, given the competitive nature of the marketplace, everyone, crafters included, need to be mindful of margin on the items they make. I can create a piece using cheap, machine-made paper or I can create the same piece using imported handmade paper from France. Regardless of the raw material I begin with, the the amount of money I can charge for the results is dictated by what the market will bear. Therefore, it makes sense to invest as little as possible in materials and charge as much as possible for the creativity I bring to the project.

In reality, all of these are secondary concerns to me. I craft not only for the economic rewards but for the emotional rewards. Beautiful, handmade objects attract me. Authoring them fills me with pride and delight. As such, crafting is both a great comfort (no matter what the economic climate is like) and a great source of "can do" spirit. In my real life, I employ a similar approach. I will frequently buy day-old bread from my local baker not only because it is half the price of fresh bread but also because day-old-bread is better suited for making a delicious egg strata. Economy as a means to enrichment.

Believe me, I have tried other ways. I have spent oodles of money on expensive craft materials (and more money, still, on gourmet food stuffs) but without creativity and discipline, the extra money spent is a waste Humble materials, faith in one's own abilities, patience, and focus are one of the most direct routes to a very rich and quite luxurious life.

We will continue to post the responses from our bloggers over the next few days and we look forward to hearing from you.





posted in: craftstylish roundtable

Comments (1)

The4Rs writes: I think crafting in crisis gives you a sense of control over an end product, when not much else seems to be controllable, the economy, politics, loss of job and self. I have retreated into my sewing room as a balm for the ragged spirit and mind, after having lost 2 jobs in 4 months. And I tell myself, I can create for me or for the marketplace, and no one can take my creation away. There is something calming and soothing about making something; I am sure the economy is creating more crafters every day, as we seek solace in the simple act of creation.
Posted: 10:48 pm on November 1st
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