What is craft?

This year I tried something new. Instead of panicking in October and missing the farm staff party AND hallowe’en to make holiday stock, I hired friends to help me make 250 bicycle bells in September.

We put in 4 five hour shifts as a team – I cut out backgrounds and traced the bodies of cats and birds. We disassembled and primed bells and glued down images with outdoor Mod Podge. As we worked through a lot of what might be considered menial tasks if done alone, I reflected on the nature of craft. Craft asks that you are conscious of how each step is done. Craft would hate for you to push a button and lose out on all that juicy “process”. Urban Outfitters can never produce authentic craft, only knock offs. I had great conversations that got infused into the bells – the expressions of the cats, the placements of the birds.

It brought to mind Polish church ladies pinching perogies and gossiping around a giant steaming pot. There’s knitting circles, clothing swaps, and helping friends fix their bicycle on a perfect sunny afternoon. Canning with friends, brunch at home, food made with love…it’s so nice to spend time with people who inspire you and keep you motivated! And shouldn’t that be what life is about?

Folk art is defined on Wikipedia as art that: expresses cultural identity by conveying shared community values and aesthetics. It encompasses a range of utilitarian and decorative media… I love the idea of being surrounded by friends while cooking, making, gardening, fixing, and dreaming. That’s what “community” means to me, and it’s non-negotiable in my craft practice. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting lost in my own little world as I sketch out ideas and flip through books of adorable cats and sweet birds! But I need the balance of input and I don’t like getting it from keyword searches alone.

On my own over the last couple of weeks I’ve applied resin and re-assembled the bells. I’m so happy with how they’ve turned out, and they’re being shipped out to the boutiques listed in the sidebar as quickly as I polish them up. It seems as soon as I’ve sent one off, another request rolls in.

I’ve booked a few shows in November, Handmade Harvest on the 9th in Almonte (swag bags to first 50!), Sandy Hill’s One and Only (free buffet!) on the 16th in Ottawa, Fat Goose on the 23rd in Kingston (new earlier time this year!), and a brand new crafty pop-up in Kingston called Labyrinth, opening mid-October in the old Minotaur location.  Check in next month as I announce December shows. See you soon!

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