Recently, I returned to the North-East of England for the WEA (Workers Educational Association) to teach two Craftivism workshops. They were part of a series, encouraging individuals to use craft and art to make a campaigning point as an activist. (There is a link at the end of this post, if you would to see the other Craftivism workshops at the WEA.)
What is Craftivism?
The word ‘Craftivism’ is made by combining ‘craft’ and ‘activism’ and it is said to have been invented by feminist Betsy Greer in 2003. Interestingly, craftivism often uses crafts that are traditionally seen as ‘feminine’: knitting, crochet, embroidery, cross-stitch, sewing, quilting. Although this is a new word, the decorative banners (stitched and embroidered) made by the suffragettes over a hundred years ago, were part of an activist campaign for women to get the vote – so the activity isn’t new.
There was an interesting television programme on BBC 4 in February this year entitled ‘Craftivism: Making a Difference’ introduced by Jenny Éclair. She described it as ‘Making the world a better Place one stitch at a time’.
For further reading, I recommend this article by Bel Jones for HowNow magazine, featuring Sarah Corbett, founder of the Craftivist Collective, here
Adding letters to fabric
For these workshops, I introduced a number of different ways of adding lettering to cloth and encouraged participants to decide on words and slogans which represented the causes they wanted to promote.
Everyone had a mix of fabrics to experiment with.
The participants then had a couple of days to continue stitching at home.
In the second workshop, different embellishment techniques were added, using buttons, beads, sequins and embroidery thread.
Here are some of the pieces, at the end of the second workshop, almost ready to be shown, displayed or worn:
What do you care passionately about? Could you campaign as a craftivist and literally wear your heart on your sleeve (or jeans pocket, or the back of your denim jacket)?
You can see more about WEA Craftivism courses in the North-East here
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