I went (with my friend Katie and roommate Kurt) to the BUST Holiday Craftacular craft fair a few weeks ago, and came away really disappointed. Lots of vendors doesn’t actually mean betters stuff, and the cool things seem to blend into this overarching sea of same-ness. Knit things, charm bracelets, silkscreened t-shirts, peacock feather headbands, more knit things, more charm bracelets, some silkscreened hoodies, and MORE PEACOCK FEATHER HEADBANDS. I bought one letterpress postcard and then left.

I think that my real disinterest is because all of it seems to be about adorning objects with the images that are currently in the zeitgeist. Birds, vegetables, pirates, ninjas, raccoons, whatever. The tacky crafts are the ones that say “hey, I’ve got some things cut out of a magazine and some bottlecaps, what can I glue them to? How about this picture frame! How about this notebook?” The stuff at the craftacular was much much nicer that that schlock, certainly, but it’s the same kind of idea, even if it’s putting a beautiful drawing of an octopus and printing it on an American Apparel t-shirt. Or putting birds onto charm bracelets.

Say you have a sister, and she’s really into mermaids. You’ll buy her pretty much anything that has a mermaid on it because you know that she’ll like it…but why are you buying that particular thing? The best craft stuff are things that are made because their object-ness is important. Like handmade furniture. This is what I think of when I think of craft–useful objects made in the most beautiful of ways. And so I like the things that are made because the maker is skilled at making such a thing–I find myself buying prints or postcards or flat things, because if I love the image, I don’t necessarily want it on my chest.

The booth of the kids who had made their own t-shirts in great colours and shapes–they totally prove the rule!

I like pottery. I respect soap. I bought beautiful hand-printed fabric at Brooklyn Flea many weeks ago that is now being incorporated into the secret quilt project.

I like objects (they become part of collections, which is something I’ve been thinking lots about and will write about later). I think that you should love the object you have because they either work well (you should have seem Emily’s face when she was explaining how great her square measuring spoons were) or because they are beautiful (I have some tea towels that I’m very very fond of, and not because they dry dishes better than others). I think people should make beautiful things, and make things beautiful. But so much craft feels like it was done because it could be, and lots of it starts to feel very cafe-press-like, with your design on a t-shirt! a tote bag! a mousepad! a thong! and not about lovely things at all.

Regarding collections, here is the assemblage of things on my living room wall. Since this was taken the colony of objects has grown a fair bit…

And regarding craft: Look! The yellow octopus apron came true:
yellow apron

4 Responses to “craftrant”

  1. 1 emily

    Well said! It really bugs me to see stuff that has been made just for the sake of…well, the sake of not much, in the end.

    And, seriously folks:
    Square measuring spoons! (Or, er, rectangular?) They’re awesome.

  2. 2 kt

    whoa, am i glad that i didn’t buy a feather headband! i’d only seen the one (@ the young designer’s market in soho), didn’t know they were A THING! :)

    my favourite thing about the yellow apron pic is the big grin on the creator’s face.

    and em, those measuring spoons are definitely smart!! (in both the intelligent and aesthetic senses of the word..)

  3. 3 desiree

    i couldn’t agree more. i thought the whole point of crafting was to create something beautiful, odd, or usesul (or all three). all of the crafts in my neck of the woods consist of beaded necklaces and knitted scarves with skulls on them. sigh.

    but i do love your apron very much! must. learn. to. sew.

  4. 4 Dory

    Thank you all for making me feel un-crazy for hating on something I should really be into. And yes, Desiree, you should learn to sew. It will make your life 2x awesome.

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