I also wanted to post up a great article by Rachel Hobson & Diane Gilleland called “Whose Craft Is It, ANYWAY?“… Elder crafters respond to the slogan “Not your grandma’s craft.”
Visit the craft aisle of your local bookstore, or surf the web, and you’re bound to run into this phrase sooner or later: “This isn’t your grandma’s knitting.” Or crochet. Or quilting. Just fill in the last word with any craft.â€¨
On the one hand, this little marketing ditty makes sense. We’re definitely in the midst of a crafting renaissance, and in many ways, we’re making things very differently than our mothers and grandmothers. But look a little closer, and you’ll find plenty of so-called “grandmas” participating in the modern craft culture and staking their own turf by making some very cool things, as well.â€¨
There’s no question that crafting has changed a lot in recent decades. Socorro Rivera, 87, remembers it this way: “In those days, girls had to know how to sew, crochet, knit, and embroider. That’s what we were taught in school in Mexico to get ready for marriage.” Today, Sorocco, who crochets, knits, makes jewelry, and sews in her home near Los Angeles, has her own page on Hannah Kopacz’ website, called Made With Love by Grandma.â€¨
Fredda Perkins, 62, mother of Naughty Secretary Club’s Jennifer Perkins, marvels at modern crafty technology. “I learned to sew on a treadle sewing machine! Now machines are computerized and will do just about everything but kiss your ass when you walk in the room,” the self-described “immediate gratification crafter,” who makes purses, pillows, and broken plate mosaics in McKinney, Texas.
Speaking of computers, what about the internet? Crafters in their 20s and 30s seem to love it, but what about those in their 50s and beyond?Â
“I honestly cannot imagine how I would still be doing my work if I had not found the [online] community,” says Boston-based doll artist Mimi Kirchner, 54, who mixes vintage and reclaimed fabrics with a variety of fiber arts techniques to create contemporary human portraits. “It is a constant validation. People are interested in what I do, they check out my new work. And then there is the other side, seeing what everybody else is doing. The cross-pollination. The ocean of images.”Â
But the resurgence of the handmade movement under the banner “This isn’t your grandma’s …” has left some seasoned crafters with mixed emotions. “On the one hand, when I first heard it, I knew exactly what they meant, so that is a good thing for marketing,” Kirchner says. “But it got old really fast. Now it sounds like the slogan of people who have no idea what the history of craft in America is all about.” True, most of what’s considered hip in the craft world these days isn’t what our grandmothers were doing. But the roots of today’s craft brilliance grow in the rich soil toiled by our grandmothers. “Every new generation brings something different and innovative to the artistic stage,”Â Perkins says. “That’s what keeps crafting vital and alive.” And while age is just a number to most of these women, their years of experience have left them with some invaluable lessons. “As I get older, I care less about rules,” says quilted fabric artist, Opal Cocke, 64, of Camano Island, Wash. “I do what feels right in the moment.”
â€¨For Cocke, that may mean leaving raw edges or combining media in ways she hasn’t seen before. Her work also includes painting, beading, stitchery, photography, and found objects. “But, I know that learning the rules from my mother and grandmother has given me confidence in breaking the rules,” sheÂ says.
â€¨These lessons from our grandmothers prove to be invaluable. And if you haven’t been able to partake in your own grandmother’s wisdom, you still have a chance to experience what previous generations have to offer.
â€¨”I wish new crafters, whatever their age, would take the time to learn some of the history,” Kirchner says. “People have been making things for as long as there have been people. Everything about craft and everyone who has enlivened the conversation with their vision is not necessarily on the internet. Go to the library. Check out some older books. See the amazing work that was being created all during the last century.”