Once I sewed a weird but cute looking stuffed monster for a friend’s new born baby. As I tucked it into the envelope something pricked my finger. I had left the needle in the toy. A cuddley toy. For a NEW BORN BABY. The needle. The things I make have charm but otherwise fail on so many levels. Yet I continue to make stuff. “Why do it, baby harmer???!” I hear you cry. It is because I think crafting is important.
The value of craft has been given loads of air time lately – the upcoming “Power of Making” exhibition at the V and A has inspired the Craft debate at the British Museum and a brilliant article by craftivist Sarah Corbett. There is shed loads of evidence to suggest that craft has the power to challenge social injustice in an imaginative and beautiful way.
It is a topic I LOVE. In fact just a few months ago some friends and I launched “the Make Collective” – a group of people who make stuff together as a way to build community and explore spirituality. It is a pretty exciting time for us.
I love stories of how cross stitch has played a part in significant global campaigns, and how making your own clothes quietly subverts our damaging consumer society.
For me though, a massive and unexplored part of the “power of making” is it’s impact on the person who is doing the making. Creating (be it writing a poem, pouring paint on canvas, building an ark) puts people in touch with their soul. When we create we reveal an often hidden part of ourselves, a side that is quite primitive the part of us that can’t fail to be overawed by a night sky jampacked with blazing stars. (As a person of faith I reckon this is because when we make stuff we are imitating God, the one who formed mountains and imagined the oceans into being. It is a deeply spiritual act.)
And when we experience that moment of connection, the satisfaction after an afternoon of making – it feels like having scratched a good itch- we are just that bit more whole.
And whole people are often the ones who feel more able to visit their neighbour, write a letter to their MP about a major issue, spend more time on the eco-ness of their homes. When I give enough time to make stuff (even terrible stuff- trousers that give Ramona builders crack, wobbly pottery that can’t stand up let alone hold a brew) I feel things are more right, and my self efficacy goes through the roof.
Making stuff changes people on the inside for the better. And in turn this impacts society and the world.
So I think every one should get in touch with their makey selves; even people who say they are utterly unartsy leave our Make workshops after whipping up a tiny comic or piece of metalwork with a buzz. I’d go so far to say that making is as important a need as nutrition, fitness and seven hugs a day.