I’ve deleted this post a half dozen times, because I’m not sure there’s a good way to say this thing I’m fairly desperate to say.

Maybe this will do it.

Dear crafts,

For the last few months, I’ve felt like I’ve been unfaithful to you. I’ve been thinking of myself as a maker.

I know this comes as a bit of a shock – it’s a bit of a shock to me, too. I don’t even know how to solder.

It’s just, with Maker Faire Vancouver and everything, I’ve met lots of people and it seems these people are my people. Mostly because it doesn’t even matter that we don’t all make the same stuff. Mostly because we do like to think about the bigger picture of how making stuff fits into our lives, our communities, our society.

I still love you, crafts – I’ll always love you – I’m just not in love with you right now, you know what I’m saying?

It’s your focus on the way things look and your disinterest when I want to talk about how things work or what they mean. It’s how you like to stare into shop windows but you’re not excited about ideas.

No, you’re right. Many crafters are interested in the whys and the hows. It’s why I love spending time with other makers who are also crafters, even if they don’t think of themselves as capital-M Makers – I believe crafting is making. The crafters I love spending time with are also interested in craft as ethos, not just craft as activity.

I can see how you may find this confusing.

It’s possible you’ll never really understand, but I know you agree that I need to be happy. I need to have conversations about all sorts of meaty ideas related society, art, technology, education, history, materials, technique, science and aesthetics. I have those conversations with some crafters, absolutely. Crafters I love with all my heart. But as I said, they’re makers, too. Most of the activity surrounding crafts isn’t these kinds of conversations – it’s ogling over cute cats with a bird on top.

I know what you’re thinking – cute cats with a bird on top do, indeed, have a place in our lives and culture. But I’m not that interested in cats or putting a bird on things. Unless you feel like tossing around ideas about why cats and birds and owls and deer are such a huge part of projects and conversation amongst crafters… No? Right. See, that’s my point.

I’ll continue to learn a lot from you, craft. You’re an important part of my life and always will be. I just need to spend more time with makers, now. I’ll teach them how to crochet, don’t you worry. And I’ll learn a lot of things that will almost certainly affect the crafting I do.

I’ll shout from the rooftops about how important you are – to me and to everyone.

What do you think about maybe having an open relationship?

Much love,

13 responses to “Dear crafts, can we see other people?”

  1. Renee S Avatar
    Renee S

    And besides, soldering’s so easy! Just remember to keep your sponge wet.

    1. Kim Werker Avatar

      Yes, I fully intend to solder. Soon.

  2. plainsight Avatar

    Huh. I never realized there was a crafter/maker split. I figured we were all one messy group with various interests. As usual, Kim… I’m with you on thinking of myself as a maker… I’m an idea girl too, of course. I just didn’t know we were taking sides. ;-) Aren’t you just pitchin’ for a fight by trying to put us all in crafter v. maker camps?



    1. Kim Werker Avatar

      Heh. I was wondering if this would spark a shitstorm. I’m glad it hasn’t. Though, to be honest, I was almost hoping for a fight – a fight that would tease out whether there really is a one vs. the other thing going on. (I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of months, and though of course I don’t think there’s competition involved, I do think there are two camps here. Just as there are knitwear designers – who go into a project assuming they’ll be inventive or at least combinatory, who will try and fail and try again, etc. – and knitting-pattern followers – who want to follow instructions to the letter – there are people who consider making stuff a part of their identity and their daily life and the way they view the world, and there are people who make stuff as a pass-time. It’s more a Venn diagram issue than a one-or-the-other issue. But any way I consider it, I see fundamental differences between these two camps – not differences that make one camp *better* than the other, just differences that make me feel like I’m a part of one camp but not the other.)

  3. Scott Ritchings Avatar

    I do things without labels. I’ve got a painting and a comic on the go right now. Am I a painter or a comic artist? I’m both, and neither. I’ve learnt how to do basic plumbing and electrical work, I built a bench for my BBQ and sewn a plush animal for a gift. I don’t identify as a plumber, or an electrician, or a carpenter or a seamster. Nor am I maker or a crafter.

    I’m just a person who has ideas and seeks out the knowledge to implement them. My parents and even more so my grandparents have/had a wide and diverse range of skills that carried them through life. Many were practical, many were hobbies, and many blended the two. They didn’t identify themselves with any title. That’s just how they rolled.

    And that’s how I roll these days.

    1. Kim Werker Avatar

      The labels are definitely problematic.

      I often think about my partner Greg, who is about the most hardcore DIYer I know. He builds furniture and fixes things and makes mosaics and sews a button. But he doesn’t *identify* as a DIYer, maker, crafter or whatever. We have some… interesting conversations over here. :)

      1. Scott Ritchings Avatar

        I think some of it sprouts from depression era and WWII era lifestyles. You couldn’t buy the things you needed, so you made the closest proximation with what you had. Can’t afford a fancy rug? Crochet one from rags! My grandmother wasn’t a ‘crocheter,’ she just needed a rug to stop my grandfather from tracking mud into the house.

  4. Rachel Palmer Avatar

    I think of my self as a creator, lower case c of course, that’s one issue I dont have

  5. Kirstyhall Avatar

    Ha, I knew we’d seduce you to the dark side of the force. Come talk to the artists, dearie, we have cookies. We decorated them like a Jackson Pollack painting but they’re tasty. Yum yum yum, you ate some Abstract Expressionism, which is like a total metaphor for our relationship with art history and a deep comment on how the market consumes the artist.

  6. mjb Avatar

    I think it’s why when I bake a loaf of bread I feel just as fulfilled as when I sew a few stitches.

  7. gale Avatar

    Funny post.
    After spending a year+ immersed in the crafter/artist/maker/DIYer/sewist/WHATEVER world working on our new book Craft Activism,  the writer Joan Tapper and I concluded that there’s not that much labeling or clear cut distinction  going on any more by those that are DOING. We kind of like the word Makers because it covers all of the above, including knitters, canners, bakers, creative taxidermists and artcar fire throwers.
    Booklink for the curious: http://www.amazon.com/Craft-Activism-Projects-Community-Handmade/dp/0307586626

    1. Kim Werker Avatar

      Your book looks amazing, Gale!

      I need to think a lot more about the terminology – there are people who do stuff or make stuff as a way of life, and people who do stuff and make stuff for other reasons. It’s the lifers I’m identifying with, you know?

  8. Xine Avatar

    I think if you’re seeing other activities behind craft’s back, then you should be stealthy about it and combine it with bowling. As in, form a bowling group to discuss such lofty ideas and no one will be the wiser. And of course, I want to join.

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