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Do you make all this “stuff” yourself?

March 9, 2015


…….”No” I’d like to reply, “I found it under my pillow this morning”

And so has ended another two and a bit days sitting on a chair alongside my work and facing the Great British public. Admittedly, I was in a beautiful leafy and wealthy London suburb and was with a like-minded group of craft/textile folk. But I did get to thinking about my next blog post and how I wanted to write something about selling at fairs. Because, honestly sometimes you need to have the hide of a rhinoceros in order to fend them off.

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I wonder where craft fairs came from? Apart from jumble sales when I was a kid and school raffles, tombolas and the like I can’t remember actually going to a craft fair? Because people were just simply making more for themselves. Golden Hands from the ’70s, which was a series of step by step crafting magazines for the home, contained ambitious projects where you could make a rocking chair from clothes pegs. Carve wooden puppets with painted faces and costumes or build dolls houses, garages or forts. Most people had some gnarly fibrous macrame plant holders or chianti bottles covered in sea shells for lights. Manufacturing and making was something that just occurred and was all around us. Daily.

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As we’ve been led down the path of mass consumption we’ve forfeited the value of making for quick and ready purchasing power. But it comes at a cost, nowadays craft magazines are much likely to show dumbed down projects like phone cases, pot holders, lavender bags and the insult to one’s own intelligence- THE EGG COSY. The naffest and most pointless ADULT sewing project…..ever. We haven’t become less able, we’ve just become less inclined.

People are becoming cut off from the products they buy. Ignorant of where, but more importantly HOW they’re made. Some of them seem genuinely baffled when I tell them I made the clothes myself. They really struggle to reply and often murmur something like “you’ve been very busy” The relationship between the clothes on their backs and where they come from is remote to say the least. I look down and see black shoes with velcro straps and comfy slacks. I die inside.

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Because I am compelled to make. Just as a cat hunts birds and a dog licks its bollocks. I am compelled to make. I can’t do anything else, I wouldn’t want to. Where did that pithy saying about 10,000 hours to get really good a something come from? How about 30 years? When someone comes up to me know and says “you’re clothes are lovely” I say “Thanks, they are aren’t they?” because the fabric has a story, the trims are well chosen, the buttons are sewn on by hand, the colours sing and the person who made them has pride in their work.

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