Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Importance of Knowing Things and The Utilitarianism of Craft

A little piece I wrote for The Stash (before it closed)

Long-gone are the days of saving scraps, mending, and reworking; so much so that the entire idea of crafting or perhaps the idea of being a craftsman is no longer looked upon with a sense of utilitarian, homemaking longing. Long winter evenings are rarely spent on handiworks, and a rainy day is more often an excuse to watch television than start and finish a project. I often wonder if the ability to create, fix and make-do even a treasured value in this day of Blackberries and Wal-Mart.

It is part of the human condition to create, it has been a matter of necessity to make things for a household, and it is a luxury to take time to craft a beautiful thing for a gift. What we make as craftsmen is an extension of our soul, it is part of our heart, passed through our hands and into a garment, onto canvas, or through a tool to a turning lathe. As craftsmen, we call upon a long line of talent before us, and as we use modern conveniences to make our crafting lives easier, one wonders if the crafter is allowing the technology to take over the technique.

We live in a world where baskets and blankets can be made in factories, in a fully automated way devoid of human hands, human hearts, and stories. The stitches and weavings and carvings passed down and developed through generations have been infringed upon by mechanisms. This not only degrades the crafts, but the craftsmen themselves. We should not be ashamed if we can only create simple, plain things, we should not be ashamed if we are able create beautiful things, what we should be ashamed of is the lack of want to learn, and the impulse to buy something crafted by machine.

Perhaps we are too busy in this life to craft, especially to craft simple things for the home, or to mend. Where have all the homemakers gone? For those with no time, I hope they find comfort in a quilt stitched without a human touch. For me, I hope to be surrounded by things with a story, made by a craftsman who takes pride in their work.

It is strange to think that the same mechanisms that provided the western world with the luxuries of free time, would then devoid us of the wont of crafting expression. As a society we must relearn and take back those skills that help make a home a home. Crafting should not become obsolete, it is important to know how to make things, and it is equally important to make them, allow others to see you making them, and to teach those others to make their own. It is in this way that we connect with each other, enriching our own lives and the lives of others with things that you cannot get on the Internet, and making bonds that go beyond the TV.

The Evilness of Facebook

Once again, the blogging has gotten away from me and the only excuse I can think of it that I have become swallowed alive by Facebook. I will blog again, or at least post parts of papers, something...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Extreme Busyness Part 2

Who knew that taking on a part time job would eat into so many facets of my life! Blogging has suffered, crafting has suffered, even crazy thinking has suffered! Ok, maybe crazy thinking hasn't suffered...
At any rate, spring is here, we have moved to a nice little cabin in the woods, yet still in the middle of town, it's quite grand actually. We have a resident moose which is nice at times, but frustrating at others, we had contemplated putting in a garden, but now that idea is out! There is still too much snow on the ground to be seriously thinking about gardening anyhow.
Work goes well, and between 20 hours a week at that and 3 grad classes I am fairly busy. Summer will be a bit of a break as I am only taking 6 credits, and have no actual in person classes.
Branden and I headed out to Kaltag, a rural village 90 miles inland from Unalakleet, to watch the Iditarod pass thorugh. I may post a longer description of that, or I may just opt to keep it in my head. We'll see.
As I said, spring is here, daylight is back with a mad fury, and now we wait for the snow to melt, and the cabin fever to lift. Hopefully by May.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My new job

I am now working as a research assistant for the Alaska Native Teacher Preparation Project, yeah! This will definatly eat into the crafting time, but i'm sure I can squeak some in here and there. It's so good to be actually working at the University, even if it is just a student position.