Hi all I have just approved numerous comments left as a result of yesterdays post and have 32 emails in my in box. Some not nice 🙁 in fact one even uses rude words. Don’t fret I am shaking my head and laughing but I had better clarify before I cop too much more flack.
I want to make it very clear that the type of projects I am objecting to are those that promise things like “make last minute gift in 15 minutes”. I saw this on a news stand in the supermarket. In Oz the mags are housed near the check out, so you pick them up while waiting in line. This “thoughtful” project advocated buying particular materials and gluing on this and that to produce something that was simply awful. I wondered what was the point and an even more serious question popped into my head. Where does this philosophy take craft?
I am not talking about a machine embroidery/quilting versus hand embroidery. I am talking about a multi million hobby industry that promises skill, design sense and a meaningful project without you having to invest time or emotional commitment. Any skill takes time to develop and the thing about craft work is that it is skillful. No matter if its made using a sewing machine or by hand the item has taken time, skill and thought to make it! That is the opposite of what is being promised in these 15 minute gift problem solvers!
Another category of people who need to consider their time are those studio based artists who earn a living from their work. They need to produce a certain amount of things in order to survive and obviously items like sewing machines are used. Since people are working from a studio professionally hopefully these items are constructed with skill, consideration and thought.
OK so what to me is a slow craft or slow cloth? To me it matters not a jot if its hand or machine made but what matters is that the process is thought through in a considered manner. Short cuts are not taken because of time constraints. This involves an acceptance of the inherent nature of the process, understanding materials and accepting that some things simply take time to make and that is what makes them so valuable.
Skills take time to develop and accepting that the reason a skill is valued is because of the time it has taken to be mastered. You can’t simply buy it or take a class then have it at your finger tips. A skill has to be developed and used to be by definition a skill.
I have been thinking about the definition of a Slow Cloth and Art Cloth given in Red Thread Studio. I differ a little. For me a slow cloth and an art cloth are often the same as it can fall into the traditional side of textiles or it can be contemporary. For instance I see Judes work often featured in Spirit Cloth as being contemporary art quilting but also a slow cloth because not only is there a complete acceptance of process but the object produced is very much tied to identity. Simply put it has meaning.
For me although the global textile traditions and techniques, the ethnography of textiles do fall into the idea of a slow cloth so do our own traditions such as for instance needlework samplers and quilting traditions. In many way the shift between traditional textiles and art cloth is simply a cultural time line because what drives their making, their cultural and personal significance is similar. Both are not about instant gratification and therefore are to me a slow cloth.
Do read the responses on the comments on yesterdays post as they are all very thoughtful and considered. Deb of Just enough Time has written about her ideas in her blog. Heather of True Stitches touched on some ideas here
Jocelyn in response to my question “do you think we need a craft philosophy that celebrates the hand crafted object made with care and meaning without regard to time” asks “Do you mean an actual organised movement that celebrates slow work?” That got me thinking as we would first have to define a slow cloth. As Jocelyn points out many textile practitioners already create within this philosophy without realising it and feel guilty that they only manage to do what they do. They feel guilty that they can not make things quickly and stupid if they can not stitch like someone who has been stitching for 20 – 30 years. I would like to find a term that allows people to ditch these feelings and simply get on with the process guilt free.
I am wondering if in searching for a definition we might be able to think about the process clearer. It might give us the ability to talk about it and tease out some of the issues around contemporary craft practice. What do you think? Do we need a discussion about the term – if so how would you define slow craft or slow cloth? Do we need to formalise a philosophy and in turn a group? I am not sure. How might this be done? Taliking about it is the first step.
Leave a comment or write a post on your blog (let me know if you do) I would love to know what people think about these ideas. For me, I am interested in questioning the ‘have it done in a snap’ culture that seems to be growing. I don’t think it’s good for the long term life of any of the craft areas which is why I am asking the question.
And I have just had another idea I could design blog button for those who want identify with the process of creating a slow cloth – what do you think?