New exponents of traditional crafts are bringing a level of artistry that is refreshing in its approach; and the humour and wit that comes across in their work is something that we don’t associate with these traditional methods. I think when you say craft to someone it can conjure up all sorts of truly terrible images of bad taste. I’m not saying all new craft is great – you only have to peep into Etsy to see the amount of rubbish there still is out there. I just think that our changes in buying habits have given opportunities to a whole range of talented individuals who have successfully found a way of reviving traditional skills with new technology.
I think this trend works for a number of reasons. The means of production satisfies our desire for good quality handmade products with little or low enviromental impact. It also fits in with our desire to reuse and recycle materials, many of these new crafters use vintage materials in their work. We feel we are supporting an artist, the little company over the big corp. We also feel we’re getting something unique in a time where every high street looks the same and sells the same. We can also learn something, its in the craft tradition to pass on your skills and many of these crafters have produced kits for you to have a go yourself.
Whitney Lee’s work mixes latch hooking – a traditional rug technique, with images of pornography to produce some really cool work. ” I was more interested in placing medium against subject in order to point out the dichotomous relationship between a crafty, “motherly” type woman and a sexually confident “slutty” woman. In our society it is nearly impossible for a woman to be both types, when really the two should be able to coexist. My work was successful largely because of the giggly irony of seeing a sex-pot image in a medium that you associate with your grandmother”
Have a look at more of Whitney’s wonderful work at www.madewithsweetlove.com
There’s also a couple of designers playing with cross stitch. Fuldesign in Sweden and Urban Cross Stitch in the UK both offer kits in the way traditional cross stitch companies do its just their contents are a little more subversive.
Fuldesign produce a range of embroidery wallhang kits that are a cheeky update of the old proverbs and sayings of grandma’s era. Inspired by everything from hangovers to gay porn you can either buy a kit or download a freebie pattern if you’re a little more familiar with embroidery.
Urban Cross Stitch use images of graffiti, naughty little phrases and retro video games in their kits. They also run events where you can swap tips and ideas over cup cakes and cocktails. See, craft ain’t what it used to be…
If you’ve ever come across crochet it was probably through some lovely relative who made you a tank top or poncho in some pretty loud colours. Well crochet is not all poncho’s and tank tops anymore. Last year the Hayward Gallery showed the work of The Institute for Figuring. They’d created a whole coral reef from all sorts of materials. Have a look here at their amazing work. http://www.theiff.org/reef/index.html
Another contemporary take on crochet is Amigurumi the Japanese art of crocheting cute creatures. Narumi Ogawa is the creator of her own little character Mr Funky. Shes written a lovely book showing you how to create a whole range of creatures – although you do need a bit of experience to work out the patterns. Here’s a link to her work and her book
The great thing about these crafts is that if ever you get stuck you can always go into any yarn shop – yes they do still exsist or failing that John Lewis and you’ll alway find someone who will be willing to help – might raise a few eyebrows if you pop along with one of Whitney Lee’s porn rugs though…..
If you’re in Manchester in the next few weeks check out the UK Craft Mafia at Manchester’s Craft & Design Centre. Heres their link www.ukdiycraft.blogspot.com