Taking Back Craft

Taking Back Craft

For a long time I’ve found myself shying away from using the term “craft”. Some how, in my mind, the word craft evolved to glitter on paper, or something that you don’t take that seriously. It is frequently used pejoratively, and somehow I let that seep into my brain and that’s what it became to mean in my own mind. Something that’s a lark, that you don’t work at to get better, something frivolous and meaningless.

This is my own fault, I shouldn’t have let it grow like that in my mind, so I’m taking the word back and making myself comfortable with it again.

Part of the reason for this is that I found myself struggling for words. People use all sorts of different ones – make, making and maker being the dominant. But that is an imprecise word, and I don’t like it. You make lots of things, from a hand knit sweater to a basket (craft), while machines also make things, but they don’t craft.

Handiwork or handwork are other words, but certainly in the case of handiwork it lends one to think of somebody you call when you need a bit of word done on your house. So again, it’s an imprecise word.

And then you have words that are too precise – I’m a knitter, a sewer (or sewist, although I buck the trend with this one and prefer sewer), a spinner, a basketmaker, a canoe maker, a blacksmith, a cooper, etc. (several of these things I am not). But it gets tiresome to list all the things you spend your time crafting.

Which leads us right back to craft. Craft is a word that by definition is somebody skilled who makes something by hand. It’s a good word, and it’s the correct word. It’s not imprecise and it’s not too precise either.

But even if you google “craft” or “crafts”, the top hits you get are brightly coloured paper, kids projects, and sugary sweet twee items. These are not bad things, but it is indicative of what people immediately think of when one says “craft”, doesn’t it? And it certainly doesn’t encompass what I consider my crafts.

Above I said it lends an air of something you don’t take seriously, and I do take my craft(s) very seriously. They’re a skill set and a challenge, and at the end of it, an extension of who I am. I spend a lot of time planning and practicing whatever I’m doing, and that is important to me. So having this idea that the word used is equated with something trivial – whether it’s my mind or the general consciousness – makes me uncomfortable.

But, on the other hand, what goes on in the general consciousness isn’t something I can personally have that much affect on. What I can have affect on is I personally think, and I personally think that craft is a good word that is perfect for what I do.

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