It’s been a long time between drinks. I’ve been so busy doing work for some upcoming exhibitions that I haven’t had time to design many new patterns, let alone stitch them up! But when people started hassling me for some fresh stuff I got my A into G!! I ended up asking around for people to help stitch some patterns up for me and the lovely Belinda stepped up the the plate with this one.
And she did a wonderful job!!
You can buy the pattern in the Radical Rags etsy store. And it’s only $5!
It’s one of my favourite quotes, especially as an ex Wellington resident!
This pattern is perfect if you’ve never cross stitched before and want something easy to start with. Or if you’re a pro stitcher and want a quick project!
All proceeds from sales of this pattern between now and the end of the month will go to my awesome mate Alex and her outback fundraising adventure! Go Alex!
Got this awesome email from Sean McFarlane who is studying design in Edinburgh (the Scottish one).
“I am currently in the middle/final throes of my final year design project & I am focusing on politically motivated design. One of the pieces I have designed & created is a cross stitch highlighting the issue of Israeli occupation in Palestine & the demolition of Palestinian homes.”
Sean also sent this nice WiP shot which I really like. I do love artists that share their process!
And of course I am especially impressed with the clever interpretation of such a classic design. I think the world needs a lot more subversions of the home sweet home!
Check out the Curious Cat for more about Sean and his work.
Over the weekend I had the immense pleasure of attending the Melbourne Social Forum. It was a super inspiring weekend and I made some amazing connections with lots of people. I was there under the banner of the Craft Cartel to both run a workshop and a stall.
I had a super awesome time with the stall. Not really ’cause I sold heaps of stuff but it was a great opportunity to meet some customers face to face. And nice to sell some things I’ve had for a while. And some new things! Like my police tape wallet I made last week. Sold it to this nice young lad who’d been feeling real guilty about buying a $1.50 wallet obviously made in a sweatshop, especially since it started falling apart real quick. Not only did I help him with a new wallet made out of Victoria Police TRASH (naughty litter bugs) but I showed him how to easily repair it if it starts to show signs of wear. I’m thinking I’ll make a couple more of these and put them online for sale.
What was most fun for me running this stall was having the opportunity to talk to people about the sustainability issues around textile production. It seems that with an increasing environmental awareness there’s plenty of people who know they should be conscious of water, energy, fuel, and paper consumption but there is little awareness about the massive waste that’s occuring with textiles.
What I found was that people understand that they should be aware of the materials that new clothes are made of. There’s a good awareness of the environmental impacts of cotton growing and the benefits of wearing bamboo and hemp. But not many people realised that most of the environmental impacts of cotton production isn’t the growing of the cotton (although that is definitely a big issue!) but also in the processes of turning cotton from raw material into cloth, especially coloured cloth!
And that’s just the production of material.
What really concern me is the massively ineficient use of fabric in our society. So many clothes are being worn only a handful of times and then literally ending up in a landfill. It surprised many people to realise that only about 8% of clothes donated for charity actually get resold. Most of it is shredded for things like filling furniture. But a fair heap of it is too dirty and torn or whatever and ends up being turfed.
We need to be so much smarter with our use of fabric. We need to start by buying better quality clothes that are made from good quality sustainable fabrics and made to withstand a fair wear. We need to learn to repair the clothes we have so they last longer. We need to think of other uses for our clothes when we’re finished using them. We need to ensure we donate all wearable clothes in a nice and clean condition to our op shops so they can be sold again.
Because at the moment tons and tons and tons of clothes end up like this every year:
And that creates more of a need for the toxic sweatshop slums spreading throughout the developing world
Does that make you sick? I sure hope so.
So after plenty of conversations to fire me up, I really enjoyed presenting the workshop ‘The Fabric of Resistance’ which was about radical craft history, both contemporary and historical. And looking into the ethics of contemporary craft which really dealt with some of the issues around sustainability and production.
We had an awesome session and were super lucky to have it in a beautiful hand made Mongolian Gur. Which I sadly didn’t get a picture of but I’m tracking one down to put up here. Thanks to everyone who came and made the workshop really successful. And for those who didn’t, here’s the slideshow:
Yes, another world IS possible!
There’s a bit of a debate that’s popped up in the etsy craftivists team which is pretty interesting. There’s a summary and a nice long comment thread going on at Crafting a Green World. Please have a read of that first.
I’ve had my two cents on the email group which I thought I’d share with the world:
Just had a very good read of the conversation that we’ve all been having and thought I’d share my thoughts.
Firstly I want to acknowledge all the hard work thats gone into establishing and supporting this street team. I think the very fact that there’s a group of people able to have an active dialogue about political definitions is a healthy sign for this team! So respect y’all! especially to Stephanie!
The definition of craftivism is a really problematic one. I think the wikipedia definition is really helpful. Personally I’ve been involved in some long, public debates on this topic for over a year now (recommend checking out the Craft Cartel podcast if anyone is particularly interested in discussions on this topic http://craftcartel.com – in particular ep 8 where I interviewed Betsy Greer, who coined the term ‘craftivism’) and I have come to the conclusion that there is no concrete definition of craftivism as everyone has their own definition and these can be radically different. Personally, I believe the definition of craftivism to be radical craft action. In other words, the use of craft to communicate a radical idea or position. This can be through overt messages in a craft object, or through the use of craft materials in a public space as a form of activism. Some people would define craftivism to be the radical use of materials, ie only using recycled materials or using materials in purposes other than which they were originally intended. Some people would define craftivism as simply the very act of making something yourself as opposed to buying it from a chain store.
I believe all of these definitions to be valid to different people in different places. Most importantly I think it’s really pointless and unhealthy to get too wound up over definitions. So long as a person is making things for the purposes of making the world a better place, I don’t see what can be achieved by getting hung up on the details.
Let me start by being really clear, this is just my opinion. I don’t think everyone should have this opinion (boring!) but I want to add my perspective.
The key phrase (I think) in the group description is this “The Etsy Craftivism Team is a team of progressive Etsyans who believe that craft and art can change the world.” While I respect what Stephanie has said about believing she had a very clear ‘liberal’ definition when this was written. I do believe this sentence is open to a quite wide interpretation. I read it as people who want to make positive change in their communities and use art and craft as their main medium to do so. When I read this when I joined, I understood that there’s going to be people of different political persuasions, and knowing that this is an international group, even the spectrums of left and right will be different for different people, they may not even exist in some countries (and they don’t, I assure you).
Knowing that I’m going to encounter people of different political persuasions doesn’t put me off, rather it inspires me. I know that the majority of you are Americans so I think most of you are by default right-wing dictators. Just kidding, but my point is that there’s a different political discussion framework in America that normally drives me mental but I’m not going to join an Etsy Street Team to try and save the planet or convince all the members that my opinion on everything is the best, I’m joining to meet other politically minded creative people. Sure I’ll see stuff I don’t agree with, but as a progressive thinker, I can chose to acknowledge stuff for what it is.
Case in point, during the recent US election, there was a lot of discussion on this list about the election which was of absolutely no interest to me. So I deleted it. Wasn’t that hard really. Even when I posted an email about a new item I was selling to fundraise for an issue that was really important to me and the response from other members of the list was to crap on about the election again, which had absolutely no relevance to the original post. Accepting that we all have different interests, views and ideas is part of being progressive.
Most importantly, the last word of that sentence I copied from the group description is ‘world’. Etsy is a global community and this group is made up of people from all over the planet. As a global activist, I thrive off hearing stories from other places and collaborating on issues we have in common. What I don’t like is people from other parts of the world telling me what I should think/feel/believe without an understanding or consideration of my understandings. If there was a move towards enforcing an American political spectrum definition on this group, I would be quite unhappy with that. I am quite looking forward to the day that the American Empire crumbles and given the current state of the US economy it doesn’t look like it’s too far away. About fucking time if you ask me. But that’s not the point.
The biggest question I would ask to anyone wanting to enforce a definition on the word progressive would be ‘what are you seeking to achieve?’ I think what would be more useful would be to add a line to the description that acknowledges that we do all come from different backgrounds and beliefs and we seek to find common ground and support each other. Personally if a John McCain supporter joined this group and told me that my latest piece in support of indigenous sovereignty was a well-made piece that serves the purpose for which it was designed well, I’d think that was awesome and I’d have hope for the future of this world.
I think the purpose of this group is to provide a space where we can share our work – to support each other and to give feedback – and work together on common issues where they exist. In my mind, that means we don’t all have to vote for the same party – or vote for that matter.
With all my love and respect
I’d be interested in what other people think about these quite interesting group dynamics. It raises some really interesting issues about how groups evolve or not as their membership changes which I think is quite reflective of how wider culture evolves due to the influence of other cultures.
I’m quite intrigued to see how this plays out.
I’m getting super excited counting down to this years’ Melbourne Social Forum, which is on in just TWO WEEKS! If you’re never been to a social forum before, it’s kind of like a global economic summit but without the white guys in suits, massive military presence and counter-productive outcomes. The social forum movement arose as an alternative to the globalisation wave that was sweeping the planet at the end of the last millennium, based around the idea that ‘another world is possible’.
At social forums, grassroots activists who work in the fields of social, economic and environmental justice get together and update each other on campaigns, talk about their work and share skills and resources.
This Melbourne Social Forum there’s gonna be a pretty decent craft presence as the movement is really coming to grips with the idea that a big part of sustainability is making more of the things we use in our lives. The Craft Cartel is doing a workshop (details to come) about craftivism and some of the issues around the consumerisation of craft.
And of course, there’s gonna be a market at the social forum! There’s going to be heaps of different organisations with stalls so you can learn about all the campaigns going on and find out what you can do to support them. And there’s going to be a heap of local, handmade stuff on stalls. I borrowed a badge maker to make some more stuff to go on my stall and spent yesterday happily making mixed media badges. There’s some at the top of the post. Like? You better come to the Melbourne Social Forum!
Hooray it’s Episode #9 of the Craft Cartel podcast, and we talk to Faythe Levine about her brand new documentary film “Handmade Nation”
Rayna has a great chat with Faythe about the film, making zines, the GFC, and yes, Paris Hilton comes up again! Check out the Handmade Nation website and blog and Flickr site to see pics of the Aussie tour and of course, the Paris Hilton pics. A MASSIVE big thanks to the awesome people at in.cube8r Gallery in Smith Street for helping to make this interview happen!
The track off the podcast is Craft Talk by Leslie Hall. It’s Craft-tastic! Check the video:
Next up we bring back the zine review section and review:
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One of the biggest highlights of my trip was a super inspiring but way too short trip to Hamilton.
As soon as we arrived, I arranged to meet up with Dr Joyce Stalker whom people might remember from her talk in Melbourne last year. We met Joyce at the school of education where some of her work is on display in the foyer (text from the show).
Nice Women II
70 used tea filters, 70 beading clusters, brown cotton thread
Each year, the [NZ] Police receive 70,000 call outs for domestic violence, an average of one every 7 1/2 minutes. It is estimated that five times as many people acknowledge family violence as call out the police. Meanwhile, nice women sip their tea.
Money Down The Drain
My Mother’s (green) quilt remnants gifted to me on her death, PVC drain pipe, glue, bucket.
Once the quintessential example of recycling acumen, today quilting is a highly commercialised activity. Most quilters, already committed to a search for perfection, now search for the perfect palette, pattern and shading among fabrics manufactured specifically for quilts. We have every right to spend money on or hobbies, but when second hand clothing stores overflow with 100% cotton items, when drains in developing nations run with the colour of toxic textile dyes, I can’t help but wonder if we have too easily let our world of fabric craft be taken over by commercial interests.
My Heritage is Bigger than “I Am”
heritage quilt made by my Grandmother, canvas, embroidery thread
Seventeen years after emigrating to New Zealand Aotearoa, I feel more sharply than ever the loss of my Canadian heritage. I have read that McCahon is this country’s greatest artist and been told that all artists here reference him. I remain stubbornly unmoved by his dark and complex works and deeply stirred by the fabric of my family’s lives.
Night Sounds on Pitcairn Island
used zippers, embroidery thread
Like quilts, zippers can carry many messages. They can be sensual and suggestive, but stories from Pitcairn Island remind us that they can carry darker messages. Romanticized as the windswept refuge of The Bounty’s mutineers, Pitcairn’s history is now tied to the reality of generations of islanders who tolerated the systemic abuse and rape of the island’s young girls.
These fabric works originally were part of Threadbare: An exhibition of unruly quilts held at Artspost, Hamilton, 29 August to 22 September, 2008.
Threadbare was a collaborative project between D Wood (a studio furniture artist lecturing at the School of Media Design, Wintec) and Joyce Stalker (an associate Professor lecturing in adult education at the School of Education, Univerty of Waikato).
The purpose of the Threadbare exhibition was to explore what happens when orthodox quilt processes and messages were challenged or eliminated completely – in other words, when quilters and quilts became unruly. We played with the traditional elements of quilt design: repetition (duplication of a predetermined module), pattern (arrangement of the module), layering (front, filling and back), and fixing (method of holding elements together).
I really enjoyed taking some time to see this work. I was particularly impacted by the Pitcairn piece as I was working in Parliament at the time that story was prominent in the news. There was quite a process trying to figure out between the various governments involved, the Islanders and the victims what would be an appropriate way to trial the offenders. I remember the universal horror at the story. I remember how everyone just stopped dead in their tracks trying to imagine how ingrained and systemic the abuse was for something so awful to go on for so long.
The Pitcairn piece sits nicely with the Tea piece in connecting up quite how universal the systemic violence against women and children in our society really is. And also how universal the culture of silence and denial is.
After catching up with Joyce, we heading down to the Migrant Resource Centre (which is an AWESOME venue for a talk) for the talk I was giving about radical craft history.
Despite being 4pm on a Tuesday, there was a great turnout and everyone there was involved in actively creating craft or change in the community. We had a fantastic discussion after my presentation and it was so inspiring to see so many active thinkers on the issues surrounding craft, women’s knowledge and activist theory.
Even better is that the group decided to meet again soon! Here’s the callout:
To all Hamilton craftivists, anarcho-embroiderers, eco-crocheters, knitta-street-artists, radical quilters, indy needleworkers, contemporary textile artists, Luddite lacemakers, evolutionary creators, creative evolutionists, stitching saboteurs, etc etc
You are cordially invited to the Vicarage to foment revolution over your needlework.
Whether you are looking for a crafty political collaboration or just some interesting company and conversation while you finish the project that’s starting to drag, this gathering will be more interesting than anything on TV. If we have enough fun we might want to do this regularly.
Forward this invitation and bring your crafty friends along too.
Where: The Vicarage, 25 Thames St, Claudelands (the house with the wooden fence next to the carpark on the corner of Thames and Heaphy)
When: Tuesday 17 March, 7.30pm
What to bring: A handcraft project to work on, your crafty friends
I look forward to hearing reports of what this group gets up to!
Thanks tons to Joyce for organising the talk and all those who helped spread the word. And thanks to Meliors for picking up the needle and getting the group going!
Finally, I did record the talk so I’ll put up a link when it’s online.
The long-awaited Episode #8 of the Craft Cartel podcast, and we talk to Betsy Greer whom we all know and love from craftivism.com abut her new book ‘Knitting for Good: A guide to creating personal, social and political change, stitch by stitch.
Betsy has a great big long chat with Rayna about her new book, consciousness in the craft world and Paris Hilton. Yip, Paris Hilton. You have to listen to hear what that’s about. The three links as discussed in the interview are: d.d.i.y. don’t do it yourself by Lisa Anne Auerbach from the Journal of Aesthetics and Protest. The Story of Stuff The Gas Station Project by Jennifer Marsh And you can win a copy of the book! Just send the answer to the question in the podcast by March 31 to go in the draw to get your own copy of this gorgeous book. And as always we’d love to hear from you, comment below or drop us a line. And don’t forget to check out the archive if you’re new round here.
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Photographic artist JR has produced these giant photographic portraits of Kenyan women and used the images to create water resistant roofing materials for Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa.
Now THIS is good art. Not only does it provide a useful visual function by literally putting a face to the sprawling slums. But it provides a useful function by improving the structure of the buildings themselves.
It must be far too easy for the wealthy to avoid the reality of slums. If you’re not poor you just don’t go anywhere near them. This installation brings the lives of the poor to the lives of the wealthy in a very clever way, by air. Of course planes must fly over these areas!
And what’s most effective is the images themselves. It’s not your stereotypical victimising wide eyed stare. These are images of vibrant, awesome and empowered women. It gives lie to the common perception (mostly perpetuated by neocolonial ‘aid’ agencies) that women living in poverty in Africa are passively accepting of the impacts of colonial economics on their lives. These images (well, to me anyway) show that these women are not only very aware of the causes of the poverty they experience but are also active participants in the saying ‘the whole world’s watching’. Pertinent given our current economic climate.
I really hope this work gets the attention it truly deserves.
props: Wooster Collective
Another piece of public art that I adored recently, in fact, had me in stitches, pissing my pants maybe?
Sick of men (mostly) pissing in public at night (do you guys know how much your piss stinks come day time? have you heard of disease?) Questionmarc installed these brilliant signs in Nottingham
Needless to say the local council has strenuously denied that it is acceptable to urinate in public.