Friday, June 5, 2009

Feminine Handicraft Series - Starting 6/10 - 4pm ET

Carly Yuenger

Hello Here on Earth listening world. Recently, in my daily web-surfing duties, I came across something that inspired an idea for a series. It was this TED talk by Margaret Wertheim.

Not only did I immediately want Margaret on the show, but her talk made me think of all the ways to think about, experience, and use all those dusty, passed down female handicrafts. So I started looking around and found non-profit groups organized around female craftiness, “craftivists” using craft as a means of protest, artists elegantly skirting the thin line between craft and art, and communities and families all over the world who have been passing down unique designs for generations.

So I’ve been putting together some shows on the common spark of female handicraft. I don’t mean to be exclusive here—I know plenty of guys who love to knit. I’m interested in how crafts—in the true sense of the word—that have been passed down from women to women are finding new outlets, expanding old ones, and are continuing to be transformed by those who care to pick them up again, and again.

The series starts off next Wednesday when Torkin Wakefield of Bead for Life shares with us how the craft of beading among women in Uganda has not only become a sustainable and meaningful form of income but a grassroots connection with people all over the world who love to make things by hand. You can check out the work Bead for Life does here. And Margaret Wertheim joins us the Wednesday after.

What do you think? Where does craftiness appear in your world? Which crafts do you enjoy? Why? Which seems more important—the tradition of craft or its radical interpretations? Please let me know if there is someone you think should be in the series! Leave a comment below or leave your voice on our voice mail: 1-877-GLOBE-07


Robert Henderson said...


As you asked me to do when I submitted this poem called "The Weaver" earlier, I'm offering it for your handicrafts series along with this inspiring story.

Following my sister's tragic loss of her 21 year old daughter caused by an aortic rupture, something doctors had repaired, temporarily, when she was 7, a friend of my sister invited her to a basket weaving class, as a way to get her back into life's mainstream.

Occupying her hands as a way to heal her heart turned out to be a blessing in many ways. She not only enjoyed basket making, she found that she was skilled at it, so much so that she was successful at selling her creations at craft fairs. In addition to making money, she was invited to juried shows and is now recognized as a fine artist in natural materials.

In the warp and woof of the stuff that makes up our lives, there are some conjunctions that seem accidental and tragic and others that seem, well,divine and full of grace. My sister's coming to the craft of basketweaving through the caring of a friend was certainly the latter type. It makes me wonder if the other type isn't also graceful and a sign of great creativity and unfathomable love, since warp and woof are at work there as well.

I wrote this poem for her.

Weaver’s Song

Memory guides me as notes of grace
Lilt and lift each strand in place,
Weaving with care, and tears, and love–
Tender reeds of a wounded dove.
Molding new dreams, tracing ones lost.
Which is sweeter? Which worth the cost?
Busy hands, give my heart a rest.
Peace, come and here find a nest.
What, I wonder, will my work hold
When my weaving’s done and my story told?
What will be laid and cradled here?
What will find wings? What songs appear?
Laced together like hands in prayer,
My basket-heart finds an answer there:
Love will come when I’ve done my best
To build this tiny, tender place of rest.
The Weaver sings sweet notes of grace,
Cradling me as He strokes my face.
“You, too, are woven, my child of clay,
My wonder of love and DNA.”

Copyright 1999 Robert “Rapierpen” Henderson

Rob in Waukesha

Ian said...

Listening right now. My mother for the last few years has provided a good steady income for my semi-retired parents with her fabric selling business. It's been a great help for them in this economy.

It started when she created a quilt for a family member. After the quilt was done my mother had left over fabric remnants. She posted them on Ebay and learned of the market for fabric remnants.

Now she goes hunting for remnants multiple times a month. Sometimes my folks will plan a vacation and hit every craft and fabric store along the way.

Anonymous said...

Women sometimes quietly use their crafts to help others in need. There is a group of retired women from the Green Bay school system that get together to knit hats, mittens and scarves for the students who can't afford to buy them. They recently tried a new craft, sewing mittens from felted remnants of wool sweaters. This activity probably is repeated in many communities. Handiwork has been a social and creative outlet with a purpose for women for probably centuries. Changing form over time to meet current circumstances and styles.