Concentration and Craft
The Victoria and Albert Museum website has a page of definitions of Craft given by well known folk. They also have a page for interested members of the public to add their definitions: V&A post your own opinion on What is Craft.
I chickened out of adding anything of my own but now I’m going to have a go here.
Thinking too hard brings on the hives or, in this case, an overwritten thought cloud. It’s just that the making of small items using yarns and fabrics and paints and paper and … (you get the idea), well I find it both soothing and stimulating and I reckon it makes me a better person. Here goes:
Craft is directing mental energies into inanimate materials; thinking them into other forms through the manipulation of hand; achieving a level of intense concentration that frees the mind of personal habit of thought and directs the eye, the hand, the tools, the materials to a new result. A meeting of mind and hand which lifts the toiler out of the ordinary daily happenings to a level of control, frustration, consideration and achievement which, in its essence can be repeated as an experience. However, to that worker, it will always have an entirely different outcome each and every time, even when creating the same item. Each item has a life of its own because of the energies of concentration with which it is imbued.
Down to earth
From time to time I’ve taken up craft activities, sometimes as banal as the making of much needed clothing and other times for the making of gifts.
Mostly the activity becomes a displacement of mind, a channelling of otherwise frustrated mental resources and idle hands.
Sometimes the results are OK, others I’ve kept, with pleasurable surprise at the outcomes, and still others went in the bin or were unravelled.
About 35-40 years ago (I shudder to say) during another period of unemployment, I returned to working with yarns, mixing knitting and crochet with tatting etc and using wool with cotton thread and string. I concentrated on character figures.
What set me off?
A news item about the death of a judge who had been well known for his eccentricity and taking a hard line on the use of judges’ rules, I think. Some reference to his ability to intimidate in court when necessary. I think there was a following news item regarding someone in the boxing world passing away and the two images melded in my brain, hence the boxers dressing gown, silk shorts and gold boots. (The silk shorts have “Judges Rules OK” stitched on them.) And of course, I had a house full of yarns.
This is what came out of it – a bit decrepit now and in need of a bit of re-gluing. The stand itself is no great shakes, but the figures contain a great deal of detail. They are crocheted and embroidered and have no stuffing or wires in them (though the barrister has a wire stand to help balance him). All rigidity is due to crocheting with a hook far too small for the yarn. This not only creates a rough, rigid material but absolutely ruins your hands. These two figures are about 4″ and 5.5″ and the yarn quite bulky, or doubled to give bulk.
Also made a selection of Edwardian characters, a 1950s school boy, a very small Valkyrie and a policeman up an old fashioned gas lamp post with a lion sitting at its foot. Most of these I’ve still got, but not the policeman and lion.
Threads and Yarns: a day of craft, conversation, health and wellbeing
Spitting Yarn – super blog and has page of London yarn shops
An homage to soft sculpture – a blog with lovely language and lovely images, some of them quite breathtaking