Amelia’s Magazine | A Little Book of Craftivism: an interview with Sarah Corbett

A Little Book of Craftivism Book Cover

For those not in the know can you summarise what Craftivism is about in a few sentences?
Very simply, craftivism is activism that uses craft as the medium to get the message out! Betsy Greer coined the term in 2003, and she defines it as “a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper and your quest for justice more infinite.” But it’s not a new concept & there are lots of different approaches around. My approach to craftivism in the Craftivist Collective is as form of ‘slow activism’, a reflective action which changes the participant as much as it does the world. Our craftivism aims to be  passionate but polite, provocative but patient, drawing people to engage in discussion and debate rather than forcing it down people’s throat. Unlike some of the more traditional, extrovert forms of activism, craftivism is quietly beautiful, it is individual and it is effective.

A Little Book of Craftivism - Hire a craftivist - workshops

A Little Book of Craftivism -Projects - bunting

What prompted the creation of a book about craftivism?
We offer support to craftivists old & new by providing online information, events and products & after speaking to many of our craftivists, it came to light that a small introductory book would be really helpful tool to help support, courage & inspire people to do craftivism or just provoke thought in people. We don’t think there is any book like ours out there at the moment so it seemed like a useful thing to produce for existing craftivists and to engage new people in craftivism in a quiet, friendly way. Plus I had worked with our editor Ziggy before on the State of Craft book where one of my projects was included in it and love the look and feel of her books so when the opportunity came along to work with her on our own book it seemed like a perfect fit. My dream is that it will be sold in shops all over the world, displayed near tills & people notice it and add it to their basket out of intrigue. 

A Little Book of Craftivism barbie

A Little Book of Craftivism craftivist footprint project

How long did it take to put the book together and what was the most exciting part about the process?
The book was quite a unique journey for most books in many ways. Ziggy from Cicada Books pitched the book to Thames & Hudson (our distributor) January 2012 who loved the idea but were nervous that it was ‘too niche’ so asked if we could match fund the project. In retrospect this was a great opportunity because it meant our supporters where part of the creation of the book through successfully crowd funding (Oct 2012-Jan 2013) proudly seeing their name alongside 150 others in the back of the book reminding us all that we are part of a movement and can achieve things together. I loved all of the parts of the process because it was all so new to me. My proposal to Cicada Books was actually titled A Little Book of Craftivism and I had an idea of the format but knew there was no way I could self-publish because I just didn’t have the skill as an editor or designer. Plus I loved the contemporary craft and graphic style all of Ziggy’s books have; they are all very modern but authentic to the artists work so when Ziggy encouraged me to pitch her idea I was excited at the prospect of working together every step of the way. I’m still learning so much which is exciting! 

A Little Book of Craftivism jigsaw photo

A Little Book of Craftivism mini protest banner

What is your favourite form of craftivism, if you had to pick one?
I still prefer small,encouraging pieces of craftivism to large pieces because I think small & beautiful can engage people in a deeper more long-lasting way where they find and decide to engage with our pieces rather than forcing our views on people with a big and brash banner. Cross-stitch used to be my favourite form of activism but not I really love hand embroidery techniques where you can stitch over your own handwriting which I think can connect to people more personally & show your own personality aesthetically. 

A Little Book of Craftivism Past projects - jigsaw

A Little Book of Craftivism post it stitched
Can you share any inspiring examples where a little bit of craftivism has had a positive effect?
I truly believe in our slogan “a spoonful of craft helps the activism go down” for lots of people in different ways. It’s hard to ‘prove’ how we have made a different in the world because we focus on helping with people’s personal transformation into politicised, active global citizens who are trying to be the change they wish to see in the world. I’m constantly inspired when I read blogs by individuals or hear from them directly about how our projects were the catalyst for them to see that they could be part of the solution to injustices in the world (as a voter, consumer, mother etc) and how they now feel empowered to fight for a better world for all. One tweet I love that also sums up the difference our approach to craftivism has had on people was by @RinSimpson & she tweeted ‘My small act of craftivism will, hopefully, go some small way towards changing the world. But more importantly, it has changed me.’

A Little Book of Craftivism tomato jam project

A Little Book of Craftivism Valentines project with Tatty Devine

Where do you hope that the movement goes from here?
I hope that people see that they can use craft for personal and political long-term positive change. I hope that our approach to craftivism helps show how craft can be used effectively to engage others and ourselves in global injustice issues and is a valid part of the activism tool kit we can use to help make the world a better place. Most of all I hope it reminds people that we should all try and be our best selves to help and not harm the world we live in. 

A Little Book of Craftivism by Sarah Corbett is published by Cicada Books and available now.

Categories ,@RinSimpson, ,A Little Book of Craftivism, ,a spoonful of craft helps the activism go down, ,Betsy Greer, ,Cicada Books, ,Craftivism, ,Craftivist Collective, ,interview, ,Sarah Corbett, ,State of Craft, ,Thames & Hudson

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