Rethinking and Reinventing CRAFT

Rethink everything you think you know! Paper Mache bowl from Up In The Air Somewhere

I’ve been away (again) working on a movie and spraying the same colors of sweat and dirt on clothes for days on end gave me some time to think.  And this time around, I thought a lot about CRAFT.   Every year it seems that some vintage craft becomes popular and I see actresses and crew members spending their slow hours knitting or crocheting or quilting, and Etsy gets flooded with new stores selling the next cool thing your grandmother used to make too.  But while I was working this summer, I started thinking about the people who are changing these crafts for a modern audience.  People who really think about the craft itself and how it might be used differently.  I do the same thing because questioning my process is what I was taught to do, but I realized that this is not how everyone thinks.  So before you pick up that scarf you’re knitting, read this.  I’m here to talk about how you might take your craft to the next level.


Tinctory necklace

Every time I go to make something, I ask myself, “Why?”  Why that color? Why that scale? Why that fabric?  That’s why I ended up making my tiny woven necklaces.

Tiny weaving necklace

Weaving was something I learned as a kid and I decided to pick it up again but this time I thought I’d play with scale.   Scale is a simple to change any craft.  For example, if you knit, why not knit with silk thread and make a necklace OR with nautical rope and make a rug?    The store Tinctory uses old stitching techniques and natural dyeing, but on a tiny scale for jewelry.  So beautiful!  AND because smocking is usually for clothing, that brings me to the next point…


Biscuit Scout ottoman

Bibuki cactus

Another thing to think about is changing the original purpose of the craft.  If you quilt, do you always have to make a quilt?  Could you make a children’s book instead?  Or why not crochet a chair rather than a tablecloth?   I came upon some artisans that have done just that.  Here is a Biscuit Scout knitted ottoman and a Bibuki crocheted cactus.   These are people taking the basics to the next level.


Chez Sucre Chez cross stitch

Corporan Glass bud vase

KG+AB porcelain bears

Sometimes you’re just really good at your craft and you all you need to do is bring it up to date.  That can happen simply with color choices (or removing color if you want to get REALLY modern) or style or content.  For example, Chez Sucre Chez sells stunning cross stitch with a very modern message, Corporan glass uses bold color and design to update glass blowing, and KG+AB uses clean white porcelain for very modern sculpture.   These artists aren’t reinventing their individual craft-wheels, but they are rethinking their message!   I’m not saying there isn’t a place for a really well made crazy quilt or knitted sweater, but change is also good (and exciting)!  Think about it.  Next time you sit down at your craft table really question what you are doing and maybe change the color, medium or size.  Or better yet, write down every craft you know how to do from paper mache to sewing on a button and investigate whether there is some way to use those simple skills in a new project!


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3 responses to “Rethinking and Reinventing CRAFT

  1. interesting thoughts. i think i still have much to discover about what i’m doing, which i [for me] the whole point of making stuff.

  2. that’s what makes craft, art..

  3. I’m glad you raised this, these are good thoughts and questions. Innovation always comes from questioning & experimenting & asking if there are different ways of doing things.

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