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Topic: Newbie question on "cool" vs "traditional" crafts  (Read 1899 times)
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wherethewild
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« on: July 19, 2004 01:22:49 PM »

Hi everyone,

okay, Im new but Ive been scrolling through the posts and trying to get the "feel" of the place. Im primarily an embroiderer and focus more on traditional techniques like stumpwork, brazilian and goldwork. One thing Ive noticed is that almost all crafts shown here are retro in style.

Why?

Is this all that sells these days? Are there any crafters on the list that do more "chic", traditional  or mainstream styles? How do they sell - is there the market for it?

Personally Im a huge fan of retro, Im just extremely interested in why most craft sites are divided into either grandma or retro. Is there nothing else out there?

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Wu Kitten
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2004 12:53:36 PM »

Wild, I'm not sure of what you mean. 

When you say "retro", are you speaking of pin-up girl stuff and boomerang stenciling?  When you say grandma, are you speaking of.......checkerboarded-cow motifs?
When you say traditional, are you speaking of Martha Stewart?

I noticed that the things here are funky and quirky...which I love, because there is a movement of today's crafters who aren't into the "toilet paper cozy thing", as the homepage so eloquently stated.  Embroidery is a traditional craft, but someone here may put a spin on it and embroider a skull or fist & middle finger.  That someone could be me, 'cause I hate flowers (unless they are the cartoony/Scooby-Doo kind).

You may not find pictures of gingham skirts, but you will find some that are made out of  ties and Spiderman pillowcases.  I wouldn't call those retro, but they are WAY cool! 

Right?
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melidomi
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« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2004 01:26:49 PM »

I think the main motivation behind this site is that young, funky people can do crafts, too, and they don't have to compromise their aesthetic to do them.  So most of the stuff you'll see here is 'non-grandama' - although there are a few actual grandmas who post here!

You'll see a lot of traditional crafts (like embroidery) reinterpreted to a more modern pattern  (like this embroidered rocker dishtowel) some actual vintage patterns (like these honeymooning kittens or this spanish dancer) that may end up being part of something less traditional than a dish towel, and also some entirely non-traditional crafts (like these comic book earrings)

That said, we're a pretty accepting and supportive forum, so feel free to post your traditional stuff, and you may even be inspired to apply those traditional techniques to some new designs (like this nude design)

Come on in, the water's fine!
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goat
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2004 10:19:51 PM »

A lot of "crafty hipsters" I know see it as just a matter of image. Doing certain crafts (using retro pinups, 50s housedresses, "vintage-looking" items) helps maintain that image. I haven't gone back and read every post here, but what I have seen seems to be more than just this superficial, image-centered take on crafting.

Crafting as a fashion statement, ugh. Just like "nerd glasses" as a fashion statement. It really burns my cookies. (Cue to whine.)

I got into crafting because I'm poor, I can't afford fancy curtains from Pier 1, I have to walk to Michael's a mile in the snow uphill both ways, etc. A lot of the crafts I see in magazines and glossy web sites are just ways to prove how hip and indie you are and would actually cost more to hand-make than to just buy the pre-made item in a store. To me, that's just another needless expenditure, another manifestation of conspicuous consumption. Who cares if I'm indie; I need something somewhat not ugly to hang from my curtain rod so that creepy guy with the big forehead who roots through the dumpsters in my complex can't look through my window!

Sometimes I find incredible inspiration on sites like this, where average joes post ways to recycle tin cans and milk jugs, but I actually get the most out of Martha Stewart Living. I like when people can take ideas like hers (classy, attractive, sophisticated, difficult as hell) and modify them into cheap, easy and equally attractive projects.

But, eh... I'm just rambling now. What were we talking about? Oh, right. No need to condemn all crafters. Personally I'd like to see more variation in style as well, but at least we're at a point where DIY is accepted and considered a neat thing to do.
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moobaa
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2004 04:20:02 AM »

I don't think wherethewild was condemning us crafty people, moreso asking where the older style of crafting things has gone. Mmmm yeah?

Well here's my opinion.
When you think about craft is all still traditional but at the same time our crafts are growing with us and growing with technology, and there are so many cultures of craft merging together now! 100 years ago women recycled their curtains to make new clothes, I'm sure they would have gone and jumped into their horse drawn buggy cracked the whip and trooted off to the to the fabric store at the drop of a hat and got a bargain price offcut if they could have. We still create clothing on a crafty budget today, the difference being that we have the fabric store offcuts to use instead of hacking up the curtains.
There's so many new products and methods to explore today than what there was 30 years ago, and crafting materials are cheaper and more common. It's only natural for crafts of all kinds to change and grow into a new... generation if you will. But todays crafts have evolved from the crafts of our parents and our "Grannies". (I just hope that that loo roll cosi doesn't ever make a comeback!)
Somethings that were traditional once and becoming traditional again! Take the way we dress.... we seem to have relived the 70's with the flared pants, the platforms and the stripey PJ shirt.
Give it another 50 years and our grandkids will think that our crafts are traditional and the crafts that we consider to be traditional will be ancient!

My point is that there is still a traditional escence in our "retro" crafts. It's lying there somewhere under the plastic, the nylon, the rubber moulding, the endless supply of sparkling glitter! If it wasn't for our Grannies we wouldn't know how to sew or how to recycle or to do any of those things that we consider to be traditional!
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Your just jealous cause the voices only want to talk to me!
shes crafty
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2004 08:21:09 AM »

...Crafting as a fashion statement, ugh. Just like "nerd glasses" as a fashion statement. It really burns my cookies. (Cue to whine.)...

Yes, it irritates me, too.  But please keep in mind, things that are a fashion statement are quickly discarded for the new "cool thing to do."   Then as these people forget about the fad of DIY, the true crafters will still be there.  I don't pay attention to fashion or people that are too trendy, nor do I care.  Btw,  I have "nerd glasses" too, of the cateye variety.  I am constantly compared to Lois Lane, Tina Fey, a librarian, etc.  People are shocked when I tell them I've had these glasses for over four years now, which is a long time in the world of eyewear!
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goat
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2004 08:49:52 AM »

That's true. I guess I was quick to jump to conclusions about wherethewild's original post.
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wherethewild
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« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2004 02:48:56 AM »

I certainly wasn't condeming crafters!! I, in my large ego moments, like to consider myself one.

My question came, if anything, from the insecure background that what I tend to do is more traditional, purely because I tend to get more caught up in the technique than the end product (ooh, a new stitch - example is done in a rose pattern so I reproduce it to try and learn it, rather than work out how to incorporate into something funkier). So I'm rather worried that my needlework objects would be dismissed in a young crafty environment as dull and traditional.

But as well there was a bit of honest bewilderment in available styles (at least embroidery, which is all I really focus on, being the staid stitcher that I am). It does seem to me when I scroll through web pages etc etc, that the hip cool retro designs tend to be a little light on complexity of techniques, while the complex techniques designs tend to be a little light on hip cool retro (and a lot more heavy on flowers). Not an insult or a judgement, just an observation and I would love to hear from\see more things that prove me wrong!!

I hope that this forum (and it has already started - I cut out the bits for my first Jordy handbag yesterday!) will open my eyes to a larger variety of styles, techniques and possibilities. Please show me all!
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Stitchalicious - funking up embroidery

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MtyAphrdti
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2004 07:33:28 PM »

and definitely share your work too!  who knows..you may come up with the next new trend of complex hip style!
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melidomi
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2004 07:09:16 AM »

Remember that with embroidery, especially, you can use any technique you want to fill stuff in.  The Sublime Stitching patterns are just outlines, but that doesn't mean you can only stitch on the outlines.  True, she only tells you about basic techniques on her site, but that's more to deal with the whole 'Oooh, that's so cool, I want to do it!' than a limitation on what you can do.  I think you may find similar situations on other funky embroidery sites as well.  The basic stitches are explained so that people can start to learn to embroider without being forced to do it on ducks or flowers.    But the exact details of what techniques to do where are left to the discretion of the individual. 

Oh, be sure to go to the sublime stitching site and click on 'embroidery by Jenny Hart' - you'll see some really amazing stuff that can't be easily classified as 'retro' or 'traditional'.

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