Craftivism, a term coined by writer and activist Betsy Greer in 2003, is a powerful movement that combines the art of crafting with the intention of creating positive social change. It is a gentle yet impactful way to raise awareness, spark conversations, and inspire action.
Craftivism is not just about making pretty things; it is about using creativity as a tool for activism. In this article, we will explore the meaning and history of craftivism, how it can make a difference, examples of craftivism projects, and ways to get involved in this empowering movement.
What is Craftivism?
Craftivism is the intersection of crafting and activism. It involves using various forms of craft, such as knitting, sewing, embroidery, and crochet, to create handmade items with a purpose. These crafted pieces often carry messages, symbols, or stories related to a specific cause or issue.
Craftivism encourages individuals to slow down, use their hands, and create something meaningful. It is a form of self-expression that can communicate powerful messages to a wider audience.
The History of Craftivism to Current Time
Craftivism has roots that can be traced back to various social justice movements throughout history. For example, during the suffrage movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, women used their sewing skills to create banners, sashes, and other textiles that were adorned with slogans and symbols advocating for women’s right to vote. These crafted items served as visual representations of the movement and helped to garner support and attention.
In more recent years, craftivism has gained momentum as a response to the fast-paced, consumer-driven nature of modern society. It has become a way for individuals to reclaim their agency and make a statement in a world that often feels overwhelming. Craftivism provides a space for people to come together, share stories, and create change through peaceful means.
A Unique Form of Activism
Craftivism is a unique form of activism that offers an alternative to traditional methods of protest and advocacy. While traditional activism often involves large-scale demonstrations or direct confrontation, craftivism takes a more personal and intimate approach. It encourages individuals to engage in acts of making and creativity as a means of raising awareness and inspiring dialogue.
Craftivism allows for a deeper connection with the issues at hand. When we create something with our own hands, we invest time, effort, and love into it. This investment translates into a stronger emotional connection to the cause we are supporting.
Crafted items have the power to spark conversations, challenge assumptions, and evoke empathy. They can serve as visual reminders of the issues we care about, and they can inspire others to join the cause.
How Your Craftivism Can Make a Difference
Craftivism has the potential to make a significant difference in creating positive social change. By combining creativity with activism, it offers a fresh and engaging approach that can reach people who may not have otherwise been interested in or aware of certain issues. Crafted items have the ability to capture attention and provoke thought in a way that traditional forms of activism may not.
Craftivism projects often have a ripple effect, spreading awareness far beyond their initial creation. For example, a knitted scarf with a message about climate change can be worn by someone who then becomes a walking billboard for the cause. Others may see the scarf, strike up a conversation, and become inspired to take action themselves.
Craftivism has the power to create small, meaningful moments of connection that can lead to larger-scale change.
Examples of Craftivism Projects
Craftivism projects come in a wide variety of forms and can be tailored to fit any cause or issue. Here are a few examples of craftivism projects that have made an impact:
In response to the 2017 Women’s March in the United States, the Pussyhat Project encouraged participants to knit or crochet pink hats to wear during the march. The hats became a powerful symbol of solidarity and women’s rights. The project continues to support initiatives and spark conversations.
This organization combines craftivism with youth education. Participants create quilt blocks that address social justice issues, such as racial inequality and LGBTQ+ rights. These blocks are then sewn together to create powerful works of art that spark thoughtful conversations.
Sometimes referred to as guerrilla knitting, yarn bombing involves covering public spaces with knitted or crocheted fabric. It adds a touch of color and whimsy to otherwise ordinary environments and can be used to raise awareness or provoke thought. Yarm bombing has become so popular as a calm protest method that there’s an International Yarn Bombing Day on the second Saturday of June each year.
These examples demonstrate the versatility and impact of craftivism, showing how crafts and handiwork can be used as a powerful tool for activism, inviting individuals to engage with important issues in a creative and accessible way.
Craftivism Examples in the Cross Stitching Community
Of course, here at Stitching the Night Away, we’re always interested in the stitching projects. Cross stitch craftivism has been utilized in various successful campaigns around the world….
This project involved creating cross stitch jigsaw pieces with messages of peace, which were then sent to politicians as a reminder of the importance of working together for a better world. The project garnered media attention and sparked conversations about the role of craftivism in shaping public opinion.
Individuals from around the world created cross stitch pieces to raise awareness about the Syrian refugee crisis. These pieces were exhibited in galleries and community spaces, sharing the stories and struggles of those affected by the crisis.
I mentioned this bundle in the big Pride pattern round up and on Facebook, and I personally purchased the bundle in support. In this example, a group of designers collaborated on a bundle and sold the patterns to raise funds for charities doing important work. I really like this model of fundraising using cross stitch patterns, and I look forward to seeing what else comes up at The Starlight Stitchery in the future.
In June 2023, a total of 1,051 bundles were sold for a grand total of $15,028.38 raised. All of the proceeds from the pattern bundle went directly to the charities; amazing donations of $7,515 to Rainbow Railroad and $7,515 to The Transgender Law Center.
These are just a handful of examples. New craftivism is popping up every day around various issues and causes, raising awareness and funding where it’s needed most.
How You Can Get Involved
Getting involved in craftivism is easier than you might think. You can become a craftivist and use your creativity to make a positive impact in the world. Here are some steps you can take to become a craftivist:
- Choose a cause: Identify an issue or cause that you are passionate about. It could be anything from environmental sustainability to human rights. Select something that resonates with you and that you feel motivated to raise awareness about.
- Pick a craft: Determine which craft you enjoy or would like to learn. Knitting, sewing, embroidery, and crochet are popular choices, but there are many other options to explore. Consider what you feel comfortable with and what will allow you to express your creativity effectively.
- Plan your project: Decide what you want to create and how it will convey your message. Whether it’s a banner, a piece of clothing, or a small knitted item, think about how your craft project can capture attention and communicate your cause.
- Share your work: Once your craftivism project is complete, share it with others. Display it in a public space, wear it proudly, or share it on social media. Use the power of storytelling to explain the significance behind your creation and why it matters to you.
A Few Craftivism Tips…
- Start small: Begin with a simple project that you can complete in a reasonable amount of time. This will help you build confidence and momentum as you start your craftivism journey.
- Connect with others: Seek out craftivism communities or organizations in your area or online. Engaging with others who share your passion can provide support, inspiration, and opportunities for collaboration.
- Educate yourself: Take the time to learn about the issues you are advocating for. Understanding the complexities and nuances of the cause will enable you to communicate more effectively and engage in meaningful conversations.
- Be open to dialogue: Craftivism is about raising awareness and sparking conversations. Embrace the opportunity to engage with others, even if they have different perspectives. Constructive dialogue can lead to greater understanding and empathy.
- Embrace imperfection: Craftivism is not about creating perfect, museum-quality pieces. It is about expressing yourself and your passion for a cause. Embrace imperfections as part of the process and focus on the message behind your craft.
Craftivism Organizations and Resources
If you’re looking for further inspiration or ways to get involved, here are some craftivism organizations and resources to explore:
Craftivist Collective: A global social enterprise that aims to provoke thought and conversation through craftivism. They offer workshops, resources, and a supportive community.
“How To Be A Craftivist: the art of gentle protest” by Sarah Corbett: Professional campaigner and founder of the Craftivist Collective shares her journey from burnt-out activist, tired of marching, confrontation and demonizing opposition, towards a more respectful activism: using craft to contemplate global issues, to provoke thought, to engage, empower and encourage people to become part of change in the face of injustice.
The Institute for Figuring: An organization that explores the intersection of art, science, and mathematics. They have curated exhibitions that feature craftivism projects, such as hyperbolic crochet coral reefs that raise awareness about climate change.
“Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activism” by Betsy Greer: This book, written by the woman who coined the term “craftivism,” provides an in-depth exploration of the movement, its history, and its potential for creating change. the book is full of inspiration for crafters who want to create works that add to the greater good.
With interviews and profiles of craftivists who are changing the world with their art, and through examples that range from community embroidery projects, stitching in prisons, revolutionary ceramics, AIDS activism, yarn bombing, and crafts that facilitate personal growth, Craftivism the book provides imaginative examples of how crafters can be creative and altruistic at the same time.
You Have the Power to Create Positive Change Through Creativity
Craftivism is a powerful movement that unites creativity and activism in a way that can create positive change. By using craft as a tool for self-expression and advocacy, individuals can raise awareness, inspire dialogue, and spark action. Whether it’s through a knitted scarf, a sewn banner, a cross stitched quilt block, or a crocheted piece, craftivism has the ability to capture attention and engage people in meaningful ways.
By getting involved in craftivism, you can contribute to a better world. By using your hands and your creativity, you can make a positive impact on the causes and issues that matter to you. Craftivism is more than just a hobby; it is a way to express your voice and encourage others to do the same.
So, why not pick up your stitching needles, thread your sewing machine, or grab your crochet hook, and join the craftivist movement today? Together, we can create a world where creativity and activism unite to build a better future.
Join the craftivist movement today and use your creativity to make a positive impact. Start by choosing a cause, picking a craft, and planning your project. Share your work with others and embrace the power of craftivism to create positive change.