Grab your glue gun, be­cause arts and crafts are cool again.

The mind­ful na­ture of craft is bring­ing a re­newed purpose into our homes and our wardrobes.

Fashion (Canada) - - Contents - By Caitlin Agnew

Over three days last De­cem­ber, around 4,000 peo­ple visit‑ ed The Theatre Cen­tre in Toronto for the 11th an­nual City of Craft fair. It was its busiest yet, with 60 ven­dors sell­ing hand­made goods like ce­ramic sculp­tures, cro­cheted cacti and stained‑glass jew­ellery. It may come as a sur­prise that in 2018, shop­pers are lit­er­ally bump­ing el­bows to get their hands on low‑fi crafts. “Right now, so many of us have the priv­i­lege of ac­cess­ing what­ever we want, when­ever we want,” says Kalpna Pa­tel, cre­ative direc­tor for City of Craft. A long­time crafter and maker, Pa­tel says the im­per­sonal na­ture of mass‑pro­duced goods has left us yearn­ing for some­thing more. “It re­flects a de­sire to en­gage with our be­long­ings in a more mean­ing­ful and thought­ful way and to know that we’re col­lect­ing items of value and qual­ity.” This de­sire is what drew 32‑year‑ old Rowena Vilo­ria back to macramé. When she and her boyfriend moved to Van­cou­ver from Toronto two years ago, the ex­cite­ment of deco‑ rat­ing their first home to­gether was damp­ened by the high prices at the decor stores in their neigh­bour­hood of Kit­si­lano, so Vilo­ria took mat­ters into her own hands and re­con­nected with the skills she’d learned as a child from her mother. “I de­cided to start do­ing macramé again to pro‑ vide artis­tic el­e­ments to our home on a budget,” she says. “Mak­ing the wall hang­ing by our din­ing ta­ble re­minded me of how ther­a­peu­tic and re­lax­ing it was. I would put on a pod­cast and start knot­ting. The re­ward—be­ing able to cre­ate beau­ti­ful pieces to dec­o­rate our home— is amaz­ing.” For those lack­ing Vilo­ria’s tal­ent, pur­chas­ing crafts is more ac­ces­si­ble than ever through events like City of Craft and Lon­don Craft Week in the United King­dom as well as on­line re­tailer Etsy, a key player in spread‑ ing the hand­made gospel. De­signed for ven­dors of vin­tage and hand­made items, the Brook­lyn‑based e‑com­merce plat­form has grown to more than 1.9 mil‑ lion sell­ers con­nect­ing with about 31 mil‑ lion buy­ers around the world. Etsy trend ex­pert Dayna Isom John­son points to the on­go­ing pop­u­lar­ity of cus­tomiza­tion as one rea­son why we’re grav­i­tat­ing to­ward

the hand­made. “The beauty in hand­made items is that each piece is unique and has its own story whether from the mak­ing process or the con­ver­sa­tion that you have with the maker,” she says.

It’s a move­ment that goes hand in hand with fash­ion, says Gary Markle, chair of the craft divi­sion at NSCAD Univer­sity in Hal­i­fax. Markle sees the craft econ­omy as a mat­u­ra­tion of the DIY move­ment. “DIY is the gate­way into peo­ple un­der­stand­ing that a hand-knit sweater is worth a lot of money,” he says. “It helps peo­ple to re­cal­i­brate what they think the value of some­thing is when they have the ex­pe­ri­ence of par­tic­i­pat­ing in that kind of mak­ing.”

Whether real or sug­gested, the aes­thetic of craft was all over the Spring 2018 run­ways. Both Jil San­der and Stella McCartney chan­nelled macramé, while Dior in­cor­po­rated patch­work and Calvin Klein, quilt­ing. Rib­bons turned up at Dolce & Gab­bana, Chanel and Christo­pher Kane and floral needle­point at Alexan­der Mc­Queen. At Loewe, de­signer Jonathan An­der­son con­tin­ued his sig­na­ture in­cor­po­ra­tion of ar­ti­sanal tech­niques on pieces like half-shred­ded trench coats and re­con­structed sun­dresses. In 2017, An­der­son, a ma­jor pro­po­nent of craft, pre­sented the first an­nual Loewe Craft Prize, a com­pe­ti­tion that rec­og­nizes an ex­cep­tional ar­ti­san with 50,000 eu­ros. “Craft is in­te­gral to de­sign; it’s how you learn what some­thing is about, how it works, about the ma­te­ri­als,” An­der­son told Fi­nan­cial Times in 2016. “It tells us where we are in a mo­ment.”

One de­signer cre­at­ing her own mo­ment is Lon­don’s Katie Jones. Feel­ing dis­tanced from the pro­duc­tion process of her colourful pieces, Jones de­cided to take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach to man­u­fac­tur­ing, launch­ing her MIY (make it your­self) col­lec­tion in which she sells pat­terns for her cloth­ing and house­hold items. “I have al­ways run work­shops along­side my brand and re­al­ized that this was some­thing I re­ally en­joyed and wanted to take fur­ther,” she says. “I love be­ing able to share my skills and my pas­sion for the crafts­man­ship.” For Jones, putting pro­duc­tion in the hands of her buy­ers re­duces waste, fos­ters en­gage­ment and ed­u­ca­tion and frees her from the re­straints of a tra­di­tional pro­duc­tion schedule. “I re­ally just want to make things that make peo­ple smile and don’t have a neg­a­tive im­pact on the world,” she says.

To­day, there are com­pa­nies like Jones’s mak­ing their own pos­i­tive im­pacts all over the world. Block Shop, run by Los An­ge­les-based sis­ters Lily and Hopie Stockman, works on block-printed tex­tiles with ar­ti­sans in Jaipur, where the en­tire process, from de­sign to dye­ing, is man­ual. “We love that you can see the hu­man hand in ev­ery one of our im­per­fect tex­tiles,” says Lily, adding that ev­ery piece tells a story— like the scarf that be­came a lighter shade of blue be­cause it was printed in the moist air of July’s mon­soon sea­son. “There’s a gen­uine, liv­ing spirit in a hand­made thing that makes it worth hang­ing onto,” adds Hopie. That spirit is the magic of hu­man touch—a ten­sion trans­ferred from our hands when we make some­thing with love. “Love is in­ten­tion, so if some­thing is made with in­ten­tion, it’s pal­pa­ble,” says Markle. In to­day’s dig­i­tal era, cap­tur­ing that feel­ing is price­less.



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