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Community and Identity in the Indie Craft Movement - Emily Stimmel - April 2009

Community and Identity in the Indie Craft Movement - Emily Stimmel - April 2009

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Published by discards_crafts9048
This essay - the culminating project for a Master's degree in Leadership and Organizational Transformation - explores the ties between a range of DIY subcultures, focusing on the "indie craft" trend of the 2000s.
This essay - the culminating project for a Master's degree in Leadership and Organizational Transformation - explores the ties between a range of DIY subcultures, focusing on the "indie craft" trend of the 2000s.

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Published by: discards_crafts9048 on Jul 17, 2009
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Community and Identity in the Indie Craft Movement 1Crafting a Community: The Use of Social
 Bricolage
in the Construction of Community andIdentity in the Indie Craft MovementEmily Elisabeth StimmelChatham University
 
Community and Identity in the Indie Craft Movement 2
Introduction: The Rise of the Indie Craft Movement
In the first decade of the twenty-first century, crafts
 – 
once considered the realm of grandmothers, housewives and children
 – 
have undergone a resurgence of popularity amongyoung, predominantly female, adults in urban communities. I
n her article, ―Cuttin
g Edge
Crafters‖
, Minneapolis
Star Tribune
reporter Kim Palmer (2006) describes this contemporarycraft renaissance as
―…fresh
, edgy and even political, thanks to a new generation of 
freewheeling, enthusiastic practitioners‖ (Palmer,
2006).This new craft movement
 – 
alternately describe
d as the ―indie craft‖ movement – 
has arisen froma combination of social, political and technological factors and draws influence from a variety of historical and current movements and subcultures, including third-wave feminism, the Arts andCrafts movement, punk and anti-consumption.In an interview with Jennifer Sabella (2008) in
The Columbia Chronicle
, Betsy Greer of Craftivism.com expresses her belief that feminist ideology and contemporary technology haveequally contributed to the resurgence of craft.
―I think that the combination of events on thefeminist timeline and the conception of the Internet have allowed craft to flourish‖ (
Greer, qtd. inSabella, 2008, p. 2). Faythe Levine, the co-author and filmmaker behind
 Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft and Design
, also sees connections between indie craft, politics andfeminism. In an interview published in
The Storque
on Etsy.com, Levine (2008) tells VanessaBertozzi
, ―The new wave of craft is influenced by the history and techniques of traditionalhandiwork, modern aesthetics, politics, feminism and art‖
(Levine, qtd. in Bertozzi, 2008). In herrecent book about the American knitting subculture,
The Close-Knit Circle: American Knitters
 
Community and Identity in the Indie Craft Movement 3
Today
, Kerry Wills (2007) notes the relationship, stating
, ―Many [knitters] also claim alliance to
one or both of two modern movements: the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement and third-wave
feminism‖
(Wills, 2007, p. 30).Though indie craft is a distinctly modern phenomenon, it also has roots planted firmly in a richhistory. In
―Die
-
hard DIY Divas‖, Sherry Stripling
(2005) of the
Seattle Times
parallels the indiecraft movement of today with the Arts and Crafts movement that straddled the late nineteenthcentury and early twentieth century.
―Just as the Industrial Age spawned the Arts & Crafts
movement, so the Information Age is begetting the Creative movement, in which individualstake charge of their own lives
(Stripling, 2005). The guerilla knitting group Knitta, profiled inthe
 Handmade Nation
book, creates a sort of knit graffiti, tagging urban areas with hand-knitpieces in an attempt at beautification. Knitta member Purl Nekklas (2008), describing the
group‘s activism
, brings to mind the Arts and Crafts philosophy of rebellion against soullessindustrial aesthetics (Arts and Crafts Movement, n.d., Origins and key principles section, para.1):I like to feel like we are wrapping t
hings with love. It‘s humanizing. We‘re adding a
human element so you are not so disconnected with your everyday environment.Industrialization is everywhere in urban areas, and pinks and reds are a lot prettier thangrays (Purl Nekklas, qtd. in Levine & Heimerl, 2008, p. 100).However, whereas the Arts and Crafts movement emerged out of sharply defined opposition to
the Industrial Revolution, today‘s indie craft movement
shares a more complex, nuancedrelationship with contemporary technology. The Internet has played a key role in connectingcrafters and creating virtual communities, allowing the movement to grow and thrive. Throughweb sites like Etsy.com, an e-commerce hub of handmade and vintage items, it has alsopresented a means for crafters to sell their wares. Ironically though, for a movement that relies so

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