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Taking action with craftivism

I’d like to share with you a craftivist project my sister Luisa recently completed. Luisa is new to craftivism. She was formally introduced to it at my first craftivism related workshop, “Stitching with Purpose,” that I delivered at Vancouver’s Mini Maker Faire in June. She had no idea what she wanted to stitch—to help with this I had brought several magazines to help participants “jog their memories”. We all have something we care about but sometimes we can come up blank at a workshop. Luisa was immediately drawn to National Geographic—she loves animals—and flipping through the pages she found some sentences that spoke to her and with Donna (my friend and helper at the event) they distilled one of the sentences down to two powerful words:

animals feel

These two words are full of meaning, feeling, and heartbreak as the mistreatment of cattle in one of Canada’s largest dairy farms (in Chilliwack, very close to Vancouver) had recently hit the news. You can read about it here, but I warn you, it is pretty depressing to hear (and see) the despicable acts that human beings are capable of.

Craftivist piece by Luisa Bucci.

Craftivist piece by Luisa Bucci.

Luisa combined her cross-stitched piece with her skills in quilting and appliqué to create a small hanging. The piece is about 7 by 9 inches and has a slot through which you can place a dowel for hanging.

What makes a craft piece a craftivist piece also?

This is an important question. Had Luisa hung her piece at home, it would simply be a craft piece. What she did instead is mail the piece to the owner of the dairy farm in Chilliwack. This is now a craftivist piece. The message is the most important thing and the tool (craft) acts as a mediator that gets you to look at the piece for it’s beauty but is really trying to communicate a message and change something in you.

If you took the Stitching with Purpose workshop I led at Artful Sundays on August 24th and have finished your piece, please send me a picture so I can share it on my blog. Email me at laura [at] laurabucci [dot] com.

Community stitching

The workshop I delivered this past Sunday (Stitching with Purpose) at Artful Sundays in Vancouver was a great activity for community members to come together and think about a personal craftivist message and do some stitching. I was pleasantly surprised at how many people decided to give this a try considering that this is a time intensive activity. Participants stayed for an hour or more to work on their text messages. Here are some pictures from the event. There is one more event next Sunday, August 31st where Magpie’s Nest will facilitate a free rag basket making workshop. More information about Artful Sundays here.

If you were one of the participants, thank you for participating and I would love to see your project and share it on this blog. Send me your picture at laura[at] laurabucci [dot] com.

Stitching with Purpose at Artful Sundays. Here I am communicating with participants.

Stitching with Purpose at Artful Sundays. Here I am communicating with participants, bottom right is my sister who kindly assisted during the event.

Participants at Stitching with Purpose at Artful Sundays.

Participants at Stitching with Purpose at Artful Sundays.

Participants at Stitching with Purpose at Artful Sundays.

Participants at Stitching with Purpose at Artful Sundays.

summer days on the Sunshine Coast

Finally had a chance to enjoy the summer here in British Columbia. A respite from art and especially from city life is always welcome. We took 5 days and explored the Sunshine Coast and had a great time camping in camp grounds reached by bumpy backroads, out of the beaten track.

Rickety wharf at Lois Lake

Rickety wharf at Lois Lake

Transitioning from tad pole to frog

Transitioning from tad pole to frog

Ireland Lake

Ireland Lake

Lots of swimming at Dodd Lake

Lots of swimming at Dodd Lake

Escape Journals now available in Vancouver

I was recently working on some personal work and was inspired to use some of the screens & stencils to create some new journals. So there’s now four new one-off journals on the topic of ‘escape.’ What this means is open to interpretation but I hope you’ll consider escaping by writing in these journals.

Specs: Eco perfect bound notebook with 13pt soft cover and 72 ivory lined sheets made from 100% recycled material. Journals are made in Canada and hand-screenprinted by me.

These lined journals can be purchased through Bird on a Wire in Vancouver while quantities last. There’s only one available in each design.

Escape Series

Craftivism: the art of craft and activism (book thoughts)

Have you ever wondered how other people globally are practicing craftivism (craft+activism)? Although you can find many examples online, you often don’t get the background behind a project or sometimes projects come to an end and the documentation is taken off-line. This is why books are so indispensable and why I really appreciate Betsy Greer’s latest book Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism. Greer has compiled a contemporary history of activist projects worldwide.

the art of craft and activism

The essays and interviews compiled in this book are truly inspiring and informative. Through these readings we are able to grasp at the variety of ways in which craftivism is practiced. As art jeweller Gabriel Craig says in his interview, “the more kinds of craft-based activism there are, the better. However, I do recognize a difference in their conception, implementation, audience, and effectiveness as advocacy tools. Part of being a successful craft activist today is having a big toolbox.”

Essays and interviews in the book fall within four categories: Personal Threads, Refashioning Craft, Craft as Political Mouthpiece, and Activating Communities.

Craftivism for some is more personal and is practiced in isolation, such as in one’s own home, but is then taken outside. Take for example, Sayraphim Lothian who in her essay, Guerrilla Kindness, talks about how her motivation is to bring some joy to people’s lives. She has done does this by crafting small artworks such as cupcakes and leaving them around her city for strangers to stumble upon. A tag that says “For You Stranger / @sayraphim” accompanies the item. @sayraphim is her twitter handle and offers people an opportunity to find more about the project. This idea of leaving a twitter handle made me think of how I could also continue the conversation online with passersby that see my craftivist project in the streets of Vancouver.

While for some the intention behind a project can be explained in relatively simple terms, others are grounded in deep political and theoretical thought. This is exemplified in Otto von Busch’s essay Crafting Resistance. Von Busch’s essay offers much food for thought as he contemplates Thoreau and Ghandi’s actions and philosophy in examining today’s acts of craft within the world of fashion and how these acts stand for forms of resistance. We can react to the oppressive effects of fashion by “crafting alternative forms of togetherness through fashion” and thus begin to work towards solutions to consumerism and peer pressure.

This idea of togetherness, working together towards a common goal, is something I have started to experience during my new practice in craftivism. The potential of creating community and spaces for discussion is one of the things that attracts me to craftivist-based actions. While I get great satisfaction both from reacting by creating my message banners and from putting them out in the community for others to contemplate, creating community and discussion feels like a logical extension to many craftivist actions.

Many of the essays and interviews in this book fuelled my commitment to further explore the potential of craftivism and to also commit to a more thoughtful lifestyle, such as mending my own clothes and being proud to show patches. JP Flintoff’s essay On Gold Joinery and Mending was inspiring.

As Catherine West says in her essay Giving Voice Through Craftivism, “craftivism is most powerful when it directly affects a community.” But needless to say, all craftivist actions affect somebody, not just the creator, and as Gabriel Craig said above, the effectiveness of these actions varies. Ultimately though, it all starts with taking action which will have the effect of transforming your life or how you see yourself in the world. How will taking action change you for a better world change you?

Be sure to check your local independent book seller before purchasing from a big chain store. Vancouver Public Library already has a copy of this book on their shelves.

Join me August 24 2014 for Stitching with Purpose in Vancouver, a free drop-in workshop. More info here

Why I’m involved in craftivism

Cross-stitched messages that will be hung in my neighbourhood. I'll show you how to do this at the workshop.

Cross-stitched messages that will be hung in my neighbourhood. I’ll show you how to do this at the workshop.

Head on over to Vancouver Mini Maker Faire’s blog to read my post on why I’m involved in craftivism.

This is the first time I’m participating in the faire. On June 8th, I’ll be leading a 1-hour making workshop on craftivism. Only 10 spots are available. Some seats will be available for online registration. Head on over to the Workshop Series page for more info and to register.

Slowing down at Joshua Tree

I’m on the road in Southern California. It’s been busy getting down here but we’re finally slowing down at Joshua Tree National Park. I’m hoping to do some drawing during this trip–drawing the environment around me. I find drawing really helps you focus on the details . It’s a study of what’s in front of you.
There is no reception at the park ( that’s where we’re camping ) so I’m writing this note while we’re parked at Big 5 as I wait for my partner (in the town of Joshua Tree). The desert is beautiful here!

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A World of Textures at Vancouver Draw Down

I am super happy to announce that I am leading a different kind of workshop this coming June! While all previous workshops have been craft based, this one is art based.

I’ll be leading a 2-hour drop-in drawing activity at Thunderbird Community Centre. Here are the details:

Workshop Description:

Discover the multitude of textures available to you in your neighbourhood. With paper and drawing materials you will explore the textures you can make from different surfaces, then cut them into shapes to create a collaborative image of your neighbourhood. Facilitated by artist Laura Bucci. Free drop-in.

When: Saturday, June 14 2014, 11:30 – 1:30, Draw Down workshop page

Where: Thunderbird Community Centre, 2311 Cassiar Street, Vancouver, map

Who is this for? Anyone, any age.

What is Vancouver Draw Down?

Now in its 5th year, Vancouver Draw Down is an annual celebration of drawing in everyday life that challenges preconceptions about drawing and works to reconnect everyone with the power and creative pleasure of making marks

Bird Inspiration 12: sad story

As I continue  to work with birds (after a big pause), I am noticing a change in how the project is going. There is something unsatisfying in just drawing pretty birds. I need depth. Or I need to say something.

In my most recent exercise, I re-used a bird I had drawn before. The leg of the collage paper accidentally tore off and I decided to go with it. Using the bird this way, with one leg, opened up the possibility of saying something about the environment. The bird leans over to look for food in a pretty field with flowers. But above it is a big X, as in do not use, do not eat, do not drink. But the warning is lost on the bird as it does not speak our language.

People are changing nature, the victims are not only us and our future generations but also all that makes up nature.

Sad story. Mixed-media on paper.

Sad story. Mixed-media on paper.

Inspiration from other artists in the art journal

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Part of what makes it to my daily visual journal are things that other artists have said that resonate with me. I often watch artist interviews or art programs online while I work on my art. Sometimes I’ll quickly jot what I hear in my journal and later or the next day I’ll ponder the words further sometimes writing and rewriting the words in order to process their significance.

In the page above, I was thinking about something that Kiki Smith said:

I don’t try to set my work on any path or any direction. I really try to follow it. . . I don’t question my impetus. I just do it and see what happens.

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And in the page above, I liked what one of the Boyd Family artists said (I think it was the guy), he said:

To be totally immersed in something is glorious.

Yes, I agree.  Visual journaling for me is not about making art, it is instead where I massage my brain to help me process thoughts and life. There are visual elements yes, but these function as writing. Visual elements in my journal are like a vocabulary of states of feeling.