CraftStylish Roundtable: Crafting in the Current Economy--Part Two

comments (2) November 4th, 2008     

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MichaelaMurphy Michaela Murphy, contributor
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Susan Beal made baby Pearls Harry Potter costume entirely from what she already had in her craft stash.

Susan Beal made baby Pearl's "Harry Potter" costume entirely from what she already had in her craft stash.

Photo: Susan Beal

Around the table we go, as more CraftStylish bloggers weigh in on this week's CraftStylish Roundtable query. To read previous responses click here. Tell us what you think and post a comment or ask a question below. The question on the table is:

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

Susan Beal:

I really find crafting relaxing and therapeutic, in the best situations or in the most stressful. And as other people have mentioned, being creative and inventive doesn't have to mean spending more and more money on supplies for projects; you can always dip into your stash or repurpose household bits and pieces for making something new.

I made my baby Pearl a Halloween costume last week using almost all stash materials: her head-to-toe Harry Potter get-up cost me just $8 for two skeins of yarn in perfect Griffyndor colors. I cut and sewed an old black v-neck t-shirt to convert it into her robe (with a felt-and-corduroy emblem); sewed up a long felt tube and stuffed it for the broomstick, adding a flurry of yarn for the bristles (plus an elastic loop to keep it on her wrist so I wouldn’t have to pick it up off the floor six or seven hundred times), and knitted up a quick little scarf in scarlet and gold garter stitch. Now I have most of the yarn left to knit something else Griffyndor-ish too!

For holiday gifts, I'm planning to do lots of stash crafting: besides the secrets I can't spill yet, I'm thinking ornaments, photo crafts (once you have a baby, guess what everyone in the family wants?!) and a cool little art supply set for my nephew. The whole family has agreed to keep it simple this year and I'm excited to make some fun, low-stress projects for my presents, and hopefully some trading with other makers at the craft fairs I'll be selling at, too!

Kayte Terry:

Well the obvious answer to this question is that we can save money by making things ourselves and not going out and buying things from stores. I think it goes deeper than that.
I craft not just to save money, but to keep myself inspired, creative and happy. In unstable economic times, we are all going to have to find creative ways to put food on the table and keep the clothes on our backs. I think crafters are very good at solving problems: we are always trying to figure out complicated stitches and designs so it figures that we would be well-equipped for an economic down-turn (ok, crisis!).
I admit that I am nervous. I mean, I work in publishing. But, I also teach people how to make things for themselves and what could be more important at a time like this?

Erika Kern:

Well. . . there's the obvious Christmas aspect of things, I think there are going to be many more handmade gifts this year and in the near future. Which I think is wonderful, since handmade gifts are always more thoughtful.

Beyond that, there's the calming factor of creative process and the feeling of accomplishment you get after finishing the project. Both of those are greater than that satisfaction you get at the mall but without the added anxiety of "Why, exactly, did I just spend $185 on a pair of high heeled sandals!?! My feet are gnarly and I prefer flats!" (um, not that this has EVER happened to me. . .stop looking at my feet!). I'm just saying. . . I've never heard of "Crafter's Remorse." I know when I craft, especially for myself or for friends I am constantly enchanted with the creative process, of seeing something of form and substance appear before me from a pile of parts and pieces. I love that I can have an idea and with a few materials and some hard work it's sitting in front of me.

If anything, the economic downturn has inspired me to be even craftier. I'm more apt to go through my fabric stash and to find uses for my scraps. . . More likely to go to the thrifts and find things to reconstruct rather than going to the shops. It's touched all aspects of my life, yesterday I made dinner out of things left in my pantry and freezer because I was a bit too broke to get to the store and it was yum-tasty! Sure it's tough, but look back at tougher times. . . the crafty always prevail and thrive.

Diane Gilleland:

BOY! Have I been thinking about this subject a lot lately!

I think crafting/DIY has significance in a sluggish economy in three ways:

- First, I think consumers will embrace making things and DIY as never before. Making is the ultimate way to entertain yourself and supply yourself with all kinds of useful things. I do think that fewer and fewer crafters will be able to afford that fancy, $15.00-a-skein yarn, but definitely people will craft from their existing stashes, trade materials, or find ways to use up scrap. I think recycled crafting will continue to see a renaissance, and this is really exciting.

- Crafting will also play a larger role in connecting people. Crisis always brings people together, of course, but the impending economic crisis will play out slowly, so we're likely to see a number of years where people come together over making. Not only is this soothing in times of stress, it's practical - we can help take care of each other by finishing a warm quilt together, or making hats and gloves for people in need. We can trade skills and goods - I'll make you a pair of socks if you'll build me some shelves. I'm all for anything that helps us meet our neighbors and create exchanges.

- I'm thinking along the same lines as Jennifer: where do people who make their living via craft fit into a recessing economy? The internet has smashed the barriers to entry for starting your own crafty business, and now there are thousands of new entrepreneurs. On the one hand, I think this is great, because everyone would be wise to diversify their income. But, this will be a time where crafty business-owners will have to sharpen their marketing skills, and get better at designing products to meet the needs of real people. I think fewer and fewer of us will be able to just make things to sell because we like them - the buying public won't have as much disposable income for pretties. If we embrace the challenges of this moment, however, it will ultimately make better entrepreneurs of us, and this is also exciting.

posted in: craftstylish roundtable, part two

Comments (2)

kalikaboo writes: A wise lady in the above post, I've always felt crafting, in various forms is a gift from God, and those who choose to use those talents are finding thier own way of coping in these troublesomes we are facing. Takes me away and gives me a smile when I feel I am using what God gave me, and best of all it's something to keep alive, what people generations ago used as a means of survival.
Posted: 10:07 pm on November 5th
RubyKitty writes: If nothing else, then at least crafting keeps us away from the TV with its endless doom mongering. If we're not going to lose our jobs and go bankrupt as a result of the recession then we're told global warming will be the end of us all. I think crafting calms the mind and is soothing, in the same way stroking a cat is soothing and literally lowers the blood pressure. I remember seeing a video about quilting and an elderly lady in the US deep south talking about how for her sewing by hand was like prayer. Every time she pushed the needle into the fabric she felt as though she was offering up a prayer. In these scary times a few prayers won't go amiss.
I'm sure they'll still be a market for craft goods, even when people are being careful with their cash. Better to buy handmade and wellmade than buy cheap and shoddy, or buy from a faceless corporation.
Posted: 5:37 pm on November 4th
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