05 December 2010

Crafts -- good or bad?

I stayed some place recently that had an entire set of animals made out of seashells. Little seashell sculptures if you will. My impression was that these had been around a while. I started thinking about my own fits of craftiness over time. I realized the styles of crafts change, sometimes dramatically. Sometimes I go to a relative's house and see a craft I made, say, 20 years ago. Yes, I was an adult then but it was a different time and those things shouldn't still exist. They should have gone to goodwill heaven long ago.

When I got married, there was a sort of country thing going on in crafts. Lots of duck and bunny based projects. I did t-shirt and sweatshirt painting too. Yes, I did. But it was okay then. So as I look back at things that are now sad or ugly years later, I wonder if there is such a thing as timeless crafts.

I think of knitting and crocheting, hand art that has gone on for centuries. While some things can carry on through time, a lace tablecloth perhaps, some things are scars on the surface of craft-dom. I'm thinking of the knit lady-doll-toilet-paper-covers of the 70s. Now, in the 70s I was delighted by a purse knitted into the base of cut off plastic soap bottle. But I was 7.

Even today when I decide I want to make something and I go look at crochet patterns, I am sometimes horrified. No, I don't want to make a yarn owl, nor a vest that fits no one. It makes me scared that I participate in the art.

I used to be much more crafty-inclined. For some reason, that tendency has been fading the last 6 years or so. Maybe it is a temporary lull. A friend did recently show me how to make felt acorns and I had a spasm and created a whole bowl full. Now I'm making essentially the same thing, only it's holly berries. A small voice in my head is concerned I'm creating something that a few years from now will make me cringe. But in spite of the voice I carry on with the roving wool making the felted berries. Felting is in right now. So it's safe... for now. But everyone who receives one, needs to think about a date to discard it, please.

It seems like many things have had a hey-day. Ducks, cows, bunnies...have had their day. Can you think of any old or new scary crafts?


  1. When I think about crafts that haven't aged well I always think of those yarn and plastic Kleenex box covers. I think that anyone who does craft projects has a few that they run across later on that make them cringe. That's probably true of any hobby where something is produced (writing, painting, etc).

    While the idea of crafting (can that be a verb or gerund?) is presumably to have something useful or attractive at the end, I think that most of the value has to do with the process and having something that you personally created. I was telling Golden a few weeks ago when our church put on the holiday bazaar that people there would sell more items if they sold do-it-yourself craft kits rather than the finished product. Selling the end product cuts out a most of the value that people get out of crafts in the first place, so that keeps people from wanting to spend their money.

  2. Themed stepping stones. We got them one year for a VBS. We never painted them, but we've kept them, because we may want to someday. That's a good craft, right? :) (Or have I just saved myself the misery of thinking "how ugly" by not getting around to it?)