Craft tools and supplies illustration by Block Party Prints

You, there! Put down the Mod Podge for a minute. We need to talk.

It started with Etsy and the rise of the handmade movement. Suddenly the hipster kids were knitting and homemade gifts began to be cool not cheap.

With the phenomenal explosion of Pinterest and every girl and her mum having a blog, suddenly it seems that craft is no longer a relaxing hobby but a twisted version of keeping up with the Joneses. Now you’re taking a macaron-making class just to cater for your one-year-old’s birthday party or crafting your entire wedding even though you’ve never been in a craft store in your life. And don’t even get me started on the madness that is Halloween.

Before you call me on it, I’ll say I’m not oblivious to the potential irony of a DIY blogger questioning the craft movement. Yes, I love craft, doing DIY projects around our home and cooking from scratch when entertaining guests. I’m truly happy to see a return to values placed on the handmade and homemade.

The problem occurs when it becomes some kind of obligation that you don’t remember signing up for. I worry that the chevron handcuffs have become some new kind of 1950s expectation for women (except that you now have to fit in a career and daily yoga).

I just want us all to stop for a moment, think about what we’re doing and why.

The DIY culture should not be about calling in sick to work so that you can make that 7-layer rainbow cake for tonight’s party even though you hate baking. It’s not about feeling like a failure as a mother because your baby’s nursery isn’t styled to magazine-worthy perfection.

It’s about rediscovering the value in handmade. It’s about:

  • having a go at something new and the satisfaction of accomplishing it
  • buying one beautiful artisan-made vase instead of five mass-produced cheapies
  • taking the time to select a thoughtful gift from an independent artist or designer
  • knowing that if you can’t find an item you’re looking for you can make it yourself
  • the enjoyment of the process of using your hands
  • delighting in the imperfections of a handmade item

If there are tasks and crafts that you enjoy doing yourself: keep them, cherish them.

For everything else: use what you have, buy what you need and forget the rest.

It’s time to lose the guilt.

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6 Responses

  • Great post and very apt. I agree, handmade is fast becoming just as much a trend and bragging focus than “greening” your life with eco products. Guided by maintaining and building your image or status in society – a type of “look-at-me, look-at-me” approach – rather than being driven and derived from a ‘deeper’ space of connection with what you include and exclude from your life and home. An example to illustrate what I mean, is buying a state of the art bamboo steamer or dehydrator for your food, but still using chemical cleaners in your home and wasting water when cooking and washing.

    • Thanks for your input Janet. Totally agree with the parallels to ‘eco chic’ – I always shake my head when I see the people buying their organic chicken and putting it in their reusable shopping bag… then drive the two minutes home in their enormous SUV.

      On that note: there’s a lot more I could do on that myself. I was thinking about doing a post series next year on greening your home. Would that be of interest to anyone?

  • I agree too, and frankly was a bit relieved after reading it. You are completely right, everyone is trying to make everything themselves these times and they all forget to think about if they really WANT to do that. I knew something felt forced or wrong about me trying to make everything myself, too. The things I have knitted without really enjoying it… Now I only do that when I really want to.

    It’s not because the nearest stylish store is selling a thousand cupcake books that I should start making cupcakes too. And it feels completely awesome NOT to take part in something for once.

    • Great attitude Caroline! Love how you are listening to your instincts about what feels right for you. A great reminder to us all.

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