'Craftivism' puts the optimism and whimsy back in activism

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Get your craftivism on!

How do you express your activism?

In Craftivism: The Art and Craft of Activism, the intersection of craft and activism reveals how 'crafters' change their world around them. From AIDS activism to yarn bombing to stitching in prisons to revolutionary ceramics, craftivism is an inspiring movement.

The excerpt below provides three craftivism vignettes. Each project expresses the need for craftivism in community and why it helps to make change. The crafts bring a sense of optimism, whimsy and possibility to situations that are anything but.

So what are you waiting for? Get your craftivism on!

The Blood Bag Project by Leigh Bowser

My three-year-old niece Chloe suffers from a rare blood condition called Diamond Blackfan Anemia (DBA). This means that her bone marrow does not create new red blood cells, causing her to become severely anemic very quickly. There are thought to be around 125 people with DBA in the UK and only 700 worldwide.

Chloe has blood transfusions every three to four weeks; she received her first two while still in the womb. When she reaches the age of ten, Chloe will be strong enough to undergo chemotherapy and receive a bone-marrow transplant. Until then, she will need more than 35 pints of blood and will have had around 120 transfusions to keep her alive.

I set up the Blood Bag Project to educate people about DBA and encourage them to donate blood.

Participants are asked to visit the project website (see below) and download the free PDF template. They can then make their own textile "blood bag" and create their own piece of art to help raise awareness of this rare condition. Over 250 bags have been made so far, by young and old, novice and experienced crafters from all over the world. Any fabrics and designs can be used -- it doesn't even have to be red! We ask people to send their bags to the address provided in the template so they can be shared online with the world.

Website: thebloodbagproject.com

Facebook: facebook.com/TheBloodBagProject

Blog: thebloodbagproject.tumblr.com

Photo: Leigh Bowser


Yarn Bomb Yukon by Jessica Vellenga

In the spring and summer of 2012, the fiber-arts collective Yarn Bomb Yukon partnered with the Yukon Transportation Museum and the Yukon Arts Centre Public Art Gallery to yarn bomb the DC-3 plane owned by the transportation museum.

The purpose of this interactive project was to transform a historic aircraft into a large-scale public art project, foster an appreciation for fiber arts, and teach knitting and crocheting to adults and children. Over a period of four months, the Yarn Bomb Yukon collective hosted more than 35 workshops on how to knit, crochet, and yarn bomb at the Atlin Arts and Music Festival, Riverside Arts Festival in Dawson, and in Whitehorse at many other events, festivals, and sit-andstitch nights. More than 100 people volunteered to knit, crochet, and sew the yarn bomb together. Knitted and crochet contributions came from all over North America. Our blog and social media were our main forms of communication.

The giant yarn bomb demonstrated the power of working together and the ability of community art to provide a new way to interact and view museum artifacts. This interactive art project is an excellent example of partnerships between museums, galleries, arts collectives, and the public.

Photo: Covering the DC-3, 2012


The Uterus Flag Project by Terrilynn

The Uterus Flag Project is a collaborative, social-practice art project involving participants who use fiber arts. They stitch a seven by nine-inch (17.78 x 22.86-cm) piece of fabric that's been pre-painted with an image of a uterus.

The project began in December 2010 in a sit-andstitch group. It has evolved into an undertaking to create awareness around the importance of the uterus as an organ. The participants become the artists, and when the project is exhibited, it takes on a feeling of synergism focused on women's health.

Through this project, I have heard other women's personal stories and concerns about their health and their families. Everyone deserves access to valid information to help make better medical choices. My mission is to educate through the power of art that integrates the ideals of feminism, to change consciousness about women's health, and to include craftivism as an alternative way of giving voice to women.

Email: [email protected]

Blog: uterusflagproject.blogspot.com/

Facebook: facebook.com/UterusFlagProject

Youtube: youtube.com/watch?v=sbOgn1XXA5A

Photo: Terrilynn, Uterus flags, Vermont College of Fine Arts, 2012


Betsy Greer has been called a lot of things, a crafteran activistan unsung hero, the godmother of craftivism, among other things. 

She writes about craftivism, craft, creativity, the positive side of activism, the squirmy chaos of identity, the psychological ick of PTSD (from both a personal diagnosed and a therapeutic perspective), among other things. Sometimes, however, she writes about all those things at once.

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