What should we do about craft and wellness? September 03, 2017 10:41
Anyone who’s got a creative hobby will have a sense that it’s doing them good in some way. Whether it’s cross-stitch or screen-printing, as soon as you immerse yourself in it, the world and its worries wash away and are replaced by the gentile but exhilarating sense of flow. It’s your own thing, and it feels really good to do it.
The media are increasingly recognising that there’s more to the modern craft movement than just cutesie cottage décor too. Like yoga before it, craft is starting to move away from eccentric to mainstream, partly because of its undeniable benefits both physical and mental. There is plenty of evidence of the benefit of craft to health and wellbeing, from the success of the prison stitching project Fine Cell Work to the research around quilting improving mental agility with its spacial problem solving challenge. A couple of years ago I blogged on a similar topic and didn’t find a lot of evidence, whereas now there’s more, and what there is, is easier to find.
This week I was lucky enough to take part in the Holborn Magazines’ panel discussion Craft And Wellness, along with Rachel of Ray Stitch (the stand-out best fabric store in North London), Lottie of the new-wave WI Shoreditch Sisters and Sarah of the Craftivist Collective, award-winning campaigner. Before the event, the four of us sat down for a drink and a chat about some of the issues we were due to discuss.
Ray Stitch is going from strength to strength as the demand for modern, on-trend dress-making fabric grows. The Shoreditch Sisters WI is thriving as a diverse local community with craft at its heart, and Sarah’s quiet craftivism is regularly recognised for its impressive results in changing attitudes and influencing politicians. London Craft Club’s own events are full of people wanting to explore craft, many citing stress and a wish a for a supportive community as their reason. (Don't forget to look at our programme of workshops!)
In a room full of crafters, the idea that craft is good for you is not a hard sell. But beyond that – well who hasn’t had a friend who thinks your crafting is a bit grannyish, geeky or just a bit boring despite the rising trend? The Great British Sewing Bee and The Great Pottery Throw Down have definitely improved the public perception of craft to some extent, but laughingly we all confessed to moments when we’ve kept quiet about our crafty obsessions as if they were a guilty pleasure.
For me, the mark of an event that was worth going to is one that changes your opinion or influences your behaviour for the better. The audience this week were well versed in the benefits of craft and suggested lots of interventions, but the discussion often came back to how a widespread lack of understanding about these benefits preventing craft being widely used as a tool for good. The logical action for me is to be a better ambassador for the benefits of craft.
So London Craft Club’s contribution to this is two-fold. First, to actively encourage all our community to share how craft improves their lives. For everyone it’s different, but please do think on it and share your thoughts in person and anywhere else you can.
And secondly, we’re working on an event, which we think is rather special and that anyone at all can join in. Watch this space, craft ambassadors!