Friday, June 18, 2010

Women and "Home Crafts"

Throughout history women were often relegated to the home fires. There they sat occupying their time with needlework, knitting, darning and embroidery. While there are some out there who think nothing could be worse or more boring, there are others, like me, who have carried on their tradition. Because these women took what they were given, they took these "Home Crafts" and made them art! They beautified the world around them while still staying within the parameters of acceptable society. These women didn't work outside the box, they worked within it. Through genius and cunning they showed their brilliance without upsetting the applecart. And while times have certainly changed, these women are now getting the respect they deserve. They showed the world what women could do within the constraints given, so that once women started to break those constraints the horizon was limitless. If they could create art in a world with borders, what about the world without?

This past fall I went on a class field trip to the Art Institute of Chicago where some of our Victorian forebearers work was on display. At the end of the 19th century, keeping photo albums was an "acceptable" past time for women to indulge in. But let me say, scrapbookers these were not. These pieces were some of the most amazing art I have ever seen. The above picture was just one of a thousand unbelievable specimens on display. The pictures were cut out and placed on gorgeous seascapes, on fans, on playing cards and even, in trees like little birds in the snow. The paintings were breathtaking and I was ecstatic that they had compiled them into books so that I could take them home and study them in more detail. I am continually astounded at the level of artwork. If my photo albums were only 1% as nice. I stare in wonder and awe from the one full photo album preserved in it's entirety, The Marvelous Album of Madame B, to the shows catalog.

Jane Austen herself did needlework, as seen in this sampler which she created around the age of 12. The original sampler was sold at auction in 1996 for over £2000, at the height of Jane Austen mania. She, like her contemporaries, took what they were given and made it art. And the thing is, crafts are as strong today as they ever were. People of my generation are picking up the needles, throwing down some yarn, and doing it ancestral style. Through sites like Etsy, our crafts, our heritage and our ingenuity are being displayed. Today thousands of people are gathering in hopes of being the largest worldwide crafting events ever. 5,476 people attending 522 Craft Parties in 49 different countries! Our heritage lives on through us and we must make ourselves shine! My friend Daniella is organizing the event for Madison and we're so cool we're one of the top 50 and we're getting a free craft kit from Etsy. So stop on by tomorrow, 4:30 at the Goodman Community Center. Roll Jane Austen style and make your ancestors proud!



You have an award on my blog:

I wish I could do some knitting! My mother does it, and she have tried to teach me, but I cant! Y_Y

Thanks Gaby! I love knitting, have since ever since I was little. Of course, when little I'd just keep going, no knowing about binding off, made for some very, very, VERY long scarves (Tom Baker style).

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