The Irish history of craft goes back for more than a 100 years starting in Cork. It was something that was thought in school by the reglisious group Quakers. They where helping the poor and using it as a means for the women to supplement their income. The person that stands out at this stage is Anna Haslam who was born in 1829.
What we know of her is that she was a suffragist and was kicked out of the Quakers movement due to her intrest in social reform. Votes for women was her big thing and contraceptive.
In 1918 Anna got the chance to vote at the age of 90. This was a day of celebration for women “surrounded by flowers and flags”.
So from small beginings there comes big changes. So why not make it pretty on the way and help people, They will want to keep or see it again. This is where the designs of nature come into play. We still have “Mountmellick Lace” here today in Ireland. Designs are based on plants in the area.
After the Famine people left Ireland and they wanted to have a piece of Ireland with them in the “New Country”. This was the start of exporting craft from Ireland. Most of the time it was jumpers from the “West” called Aran Sweaters. This was something that belonged to the family. It is a form of Cable Knitting.
Jump forward to this Century and ask yourself where is craft today? Is it still taught in schools or a family tradition that is passed on. Is it still only done by women of the family. Is it exportable out of the country?
Craft is taking on a new lease of life today. Many women are once again using it supplement their income. Many turn it into a business and export it. This is mainly knitting but there are some of the smaller crafts that go well. So this aspect of craft has changed very little if done as once off.
But Anna Haslam was an activsit does this happen with craft that it is combined with general life. We just have to look outside Ireland and see it does. Just across the sea we hear of the word “Craftiivist” and what does this mean. Well these people like Anna Haslam had a love of craft that they wanted to share with others.
Anna Haslam wanted to impower women through social reform. She wanted women the right to vote and be valued as a person. Also had views on contrapective which was new to Ireland. She did get her right to vote before she died. So it was long struggle but worth it in the end.
This brings us back to today’s problems and activists looking for new ways to get their message out there. One such one is Sarah Corbett. She saw craft as the way forward. How?
This is the fun part which is why I personally like the whole thing of being craftivist. Yes this is a real word.
First there is methord to the madness. When a person is observing their craft they general get asked questions about what doing. People want to see their work and maybe would like to make something like it. This is the way the movement grows and the result is that people are enlightened.
When people get together to craft there is a theme for the workshop. So they very from place to place.