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  1. #1
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    is your craft sometimes subversive? sometimes political?

    i was wondering how folks about crafts sometimes carrying subversive or political messages. post-feminst? anti-consumerist? things like that.

    if your work does this, often or occasionaly, how would you show someone or demonstrate that idea?

    the reason i ask is i need to prove this idea for a class and am stuck and frustrated on how to do it. writing about it and presenting research isn't enough, and i feel i am in a bit of a pickle now.

    if you have any thoughts on the matter, thanks in advance for sharing. if not, that's ok too. i am just a bit desperate on the topic and needed to seek advice. :-)

    -teanut

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  3. #2
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    the reason i ask is i need to prove this idea for a class and am stuck and frustrated on how to do it. writing about it and presenting research isn't enough, and i feel i am in a bit of a pickle now.
    Oh dear. I have to say I've always been unconvinced by people that claim their crafting is in any way political and their arguments seem to consist of simply asserting that it is...

    You might be better off re-framing the question.... erm, how I don't know. Actually I'm thinking of Debbie Stoller and how in her book she didn't make a claim that knitting was political or that is was feminist, but that looking AT knitting/craft through the lens of a particular political philosophy (in her case, feminism) assumptions about the role of women and domesticity was illuminated in a new way for her. Maybe you could go in a similar direction?

  4. #3
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    ah, good idea MlleEmily. perhaps that is where i am getting stuck.

    i will think further about your suggestion to reframe the question...

    i guess i just think that there is something more interesting going on with crafts, that it's not "just crafts" or "just a hobby." something about the expression and soul of it that i think is often overlooked. by many.

    :-l

  5. #4
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    i guess i just think that there is something more interesting going on with crafts, that it's not "just crafts" or "just a hobby." something about the expression and soul of it that i think is often overlooked. by many.
    Well okay, I see where you could go with this... do you know anything about MARX? He had this theory of alienation where people in the capitalist system get alienated from the products they produce, because in the factory/business model, you make something, then you sell it, it;s gone, you don't use it. By this rationale crafting things for yourself and using them yourself makes the whole process more personally meaningful.

    I have described this all very badly (I can barely remember my first-year sociology, it was a long while ago) but maybe google MARX, ALIENATION and SPECIES-BEING and you might get a better explanation than I've been able to give.

  6. #5
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    I like MlleEmily's idea of looking at how crafting can be Marxian. You might also want to to a google or wikipedia search for Marx's "labor value theory" (I think that's what it's called). Anyhoo, it basically means giving things value based on the labor that it took to create them rather than just the cost of the materials and equipment. The idea seems to fit with crafts nicely.

  7. #6
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    I'm so glad you all brought up Marx. One of the reasons I cook and now crochet is because doing these things help me from being alienated from my labor. I see the results and I use them. I feel less conflict. I am not exploiting others as much because of them.

    I have no desire to make a handbag in the shape of a flag, or make crocheted clothes for Barbie dolls to express my politics, although I have respect for those who wish to do so. For me, the most political piece of art I own was made by my great-grandmother- it's a quilt. It reminds me that when I use it to warm myself, I can survive, because my ancestors are there to guide and protect me. I hate to belabor my ethnicity (which in most contexts is pretty unimportant to me), but as a black woman, acknowledging the ancestors is a political act, and so is making something by hand and not having it taken away.

  8. #7
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    this is great--i will look into how crafts relate to marx, thanks for the suggestion and feedback about it. it's a very interesting comparison and it might make for some great informational design (charts and graphs) about labor, costs, actual value, etc. (i'm in a graphic design program).

    and to anthrogirl, thanks for bringing up quilts. the concept of quilts (and other crafts) communicating family history also appeals to me.

    i really appreciate this help! thanks!

    teanut :-)

  9. #8
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    You might want to look at a wonder children's book called Show Way, which is about how black women used quilts to free their families from slavery. Most slave quilts were actually maps. Later those same designs lost their meanings, and are now just pretty patterns. Now that's what I call subversive art.

  10. #9
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    my crafting isn't overtly political, however, the more serious i get about making a living from my crafts, the more inspired i am to use ethical and environmentally sound practices (for example, buying materials from fair trade labor sources and using found/recycled/thrifted/sustainably produced materials). and i feel that making a living for ones'self rather than being a part of the corporate world or working to pad someone else's pockets has a political subtext, for me, anyway.

    that's so interesting about the quilts- i've never heard that before.

  11. #10
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    I won't say that anything I do is political, but there are certain things I won't do.

    1) have baby bottles on any fabric I use, or decorate diaper cakes with baby bottles. Bottle-feeding is prevalent enough, and if anyone said, "So what, big deal if there's a bottle," just proves my point that bottle feeding is seen as normal and breastfeeding is the uncommon activity.
    2) make Christining gowns for babies. I've had two people ask, and one was just this morning. There are no examples of infant baptism in the Bible, and so I don't believe it is necessary or favorable in the sight of God.

    Well, those are two things I can think of that do affect my work. It's not overt, as no one would look at my website or my store displays and say, "WHere are the baby bottles?" but it's my own thang.


 
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