Friday, January 30, 2009
Where's the crafter in the craft?
As I mull over the CHA convention and trade show, I've come up with a few observations and thoughts.
First of all, scrapbooking is huge. I mean ginormous. I venture to guess that 60 or 70 percent of the show was comprised of scrapbook vendors. That's a lot of paper, my friends, not to mention cutters, stamps, inks, paints, bindings, and paper punches.
Let's be honest: I think scrapbooking is sort of considered the red-headed stepchild of the crafting community, at least to indie crafters. Or maybe that's just me. When a friend's husband assumed I liked scrapbooking because of my crafty nature, I was offended.
Now I'm asking myself why that is. And the show provided an answer, at least in part. I saw a lot of products geared toward crafters who don't actually like the process of crafting. Seriously. There's the Cricut and Cuttlebug (FYI: I just had a hard time writing those product names, as they are just so treacly), machines that allow you to cut and emboss by pressing a button. The finished product is attractive, sure, but where's the crafter in the craft? Part of the joy for me when creating something is the pleasure I get out of the process, whether it's tens of hours knitting a sweater or 30 minutes wire wrapping earrings. I like manipulating materials, seeing genius (and yep, failure) unfold in my fingers. I can't jones on a machine-made card in the same way. I'd rather just go buy a $6 letter-pressed card that someone else made with love. (Now let me also say that I think there are loads of scrapbookers who do enjoy the process of designing and building each page, but the industry is just making it easier to step away from the hands-on part of the process, and when you are crunched for time, it's tempting to just press a button. Scrapbooking winds up getting a bad, and perhaps undeserved, rap.)
Now, for fear of being a hypocrite, I must confess that I did fancy the Yudu, a home silkscreening machine that the maker of the Cricut, Provo Craft, also introduced at the show. They were churning out custom t-shirts like nobody's business. The stencils and designs that came with the machine were not, as my mom would say, my cup of tea, but the machine offered a lot of possibilities for the artistic crafter. I am tempted to add it to a wish list.
I realize that I may offend some people by talking about all of this, and I certainly do not mean to demean anyone. After all, if crafting gives you any pleasure or satisfaction, then it's worthwhile. I'd love to hear your thoughts on scrapbooking, electronic tools, and the creative process. What do you enjoy or dismiss about various crafts?
Oh, and I also included a few photos here of the over-the-top and just plain weird stuff I saw at CHA. The mosaic mannequin was exquisitely crafted but whatcha gonna do with a mosaic mannequin? Duncan has some incredible new products and to demonstrate one glitter paint, they made a crazy camouflage hoodie. Check out their site in the coming months, as they are planning to add projects, expert tips, and a community feature. Then there was the grown woman who dressed up like a baby doll and sat in a giant chair, talking to evweeboddy wike a wittle girl. It was so not cute.