Craftivism- What is it and how can you get involved?
THE "YOUR DICTIONARY" DEFINITION OF CRAFTIVISM IS USING HAND-MADE ART TO EXPRESS OPINIONS OR TO SUPPORT A MOVEMENT, A COMBINATION OF CRAFT AND ACTIVISM.
So what does that really entail? For most people the most recent example is that of the pink "pussy hats" which many people knitted, crocheted or sewed for the Women's March on January 21st. And it did create a strong visual to go along with the message and perfectly illustrates the combination of crafting and activism. But this is not the first time knitting needles have been employed to help change the world.
Pick a Cause
You don't have to limit yourself to just one but you do have to pick at least one think you care about to be the focus of your craftivism. It should be something you personally care about and want to see change. Women's rights, Black lives matter, reducing plastic use, LGBTQ right, protecting wildlife, anything. You can also leave it as vague as environmental protection or as specific as fighting a proposed city ordinance which you disagree with. Just remember, it should be something you care about enough to spend you time, energy and even money on (craft supplies are not free).
Now is the time to use your creativity to be clever, sincere, informative, funny or powerful. What will grab people's attention? What colors and textures embody my movement? Do my crafts need to be big or can small have an impact as well? You could sew a dress and embroider it with feminist quotations. Use your drawing skills to create a comic strip and then screen print it onto t-shirts. The sky is the limit is you can make a protest kite. Let those creative juices flow! And if you need some help with ideas then check out the book Craftivism by Bestry Greer. There are many amazing and creative ideas in this book.
During both World Wars (and the civil war) women were encouraged to knit hats, gloves, sock and sweaters for the servicemen. So knitting for a cause is nothing new but today we are beginning to branch out and use our crafting skills not only to support our troops but to show our displeasure with government, help the less fortunate in our communities and express a wide range of social and political views. If you are thinking about combining your love of crafting with an interest in activism then here are some ideas of how you can do that.
Pick a Craft
If you already have a favorite craft then great, play to your strengths. If not then now is a great time to try a new one. Knitting, crochet and sewing are classic favorites that lend themselves well to craftivism but cross stitch, screen printing and needle felting could also be incorporated. And if you have more than one area of craft interest then you don't have to limit yourself. Combine your forces to make something amazing.
Find a group or event at which to debut your craftivism. Quilting a protest sign won't do much good if you don't leave the house with it. (This is the hardest part for me being an introverted homebody.) So when you are picking your cause you should also be picking (or starting) a group with which to organize.
Less "Activist" But Still Wonderful To Do
Maybe you're not a protestor or someone who wears their beliefs knitted into their sweater. That's okay. You can still use your craft skills to do positive things in your community. For the last 25 years or so my mom has been a member of an organization called Quilts from Caring Hands which makes and gives away quilts to foster children, the homeless and many more. This is not a loud way to show activism but it does improve the lives of those in the community.
Hand crafted items are a great way to show you care and give back to your community or the world. You could crochet hats for the homeless, sew art quilts for fundraisers or make positive bookmarks to hide in books. The point is that activism is usually vigorous and aimed at political or social change but I think craftivism should include smaller and more delicate acts which can impact people individually and in a positive manner.
Whatever definition of craftivism you adhere to or what you decided to make and for what cause, I hope you will begin to look at your crafting skills not only as a relaxing pastime for yourself but also a way to change or improve something you are passionate about..
So what craftivism activities are you up to? Leave a comment to help inspire others.