Taking It Back
Sewing and gardening have been, for centuries, often seen as women's work, and so, unfortunately, these skills have often been looked down upon. But that is just ridiculous. We need items such as clothes and blankets, and of course we need food - so why in the world aren't these expertise exalted?
In the 1970s-1990s, many second wave feminists rejected "home skills" like sewing and gardening for endeavors out in the world wide workforce. They broke through many a glass ceiling, but in the process, many sustainable skills skipped a generation or two. In the later 1990s the third wave feminists started taking the "handcrafts" back.
Modern women elevated (and continue to lift) traditional skills to the realms of high and low brow art - as well as offer the craft arts a place of honor in everyday 21st century life, as both objects d'art and enjoyable creative experiences.
Historically, women weren't "allowed" to be scientists, but the fields of nature-study, art, and natural history were socially acceptable venues for women to explore. (The original STEAM learning!)
Some of the most groundbreaking and informative botanical and zoological discoveries and illustrative documentations have been made by women throughout history.
In the past couple decades, handwork (such as sewing arts, cooking, and other things deemed "women's work" by patriarchal oppressors), have been taken back by third wave feminists.
Cheeky mission statements like "not your grandma's embroidery" or "stitch and bitch" are more popular than ever, Maker Spaces and handmade markets abound, and even kids are learning to knit and mend. It's both fun and fantastic!
Nature-study, gardening and farming, sewing your own clothes and house-wears, and knowing how to identify wild edibles for nutrition and healing are skills of equity and equality and are valuable to all humanity.
They keep humans in tune with the natural world and each other - not only in a mend and make do, reduce reuse recycle kind of way, but in ecologically literate, place/community connected, mindfulness kinds of ways.
Nature connection and craftivism are , in my opinion, the most superb vehicles for raising awareness about environmental and social issues and subverting the dominant paradigm in service of people and planet.
So this month let's connect to nature through craftivism!
Wonder Wednesday 116: Spring Leaf Embroidery
Embroidery is an incredibly fun skill that is not only useful in a utilitarian sense, but it is relaxing, mindful, and brings beauty to the world. So when we add embroidery to nature, we get the benefit of a practical skill as well as the experience of using creativity to connect with nature!
This month's project is inspired by artists such as Hillary Waters Fayle. Below is a piece of her work that belongs to my sister. Isn't it amazing?!
Fresh leaves, large and supple, but fairly tough so as not to tear too easily
Permanent marker (like a sharpie or pigma micron)
This project is targeted at adults and adolescents. That said, children younger with experience or an interest in sewing would definitely enjoy this project.
- Gather a basket of fresh spring leaves.
- Consider a design you would like to add to the leaf of your choice. Trace your leaf in a sketch book and play around with designs. Consider the leaf's veins, edges, and composition. Then, incorporate decorative designs such as stars or even french knots and other classic embroidery stitches
- If you are new to embroidery, practice some stitches. (See the stitch instructions link below.)
This is a tea towel I embroidered for the little craftivist handwork art show in the photo above that I had back in 2012 at a vegan ice cream parlor.
The design is by Sean Mahan and the sewing is by me.
Choose a leaf that is supple, not too tender, and has enough space to stitch your design.
Use a permanent marker to draw your design onto the leaf.
Stitch your leaf!
Turn the embroidered leaves to hang as ornaments on trees in your garden on in a park
Use the embroidered leaves as gift tags
Use the embroidered leaves as name tags or as place cards at a community pot luck!
I'm not a cross stitch or embroidery formalist. I don't worry about the backside being perfect or not tying knots. It's the backside- who cares what it looks like!
Have fun with it and focus on making the front side look beautiful to your eye.
What crafts do you use to connect with people and planet?
Share in the comments below!
Share your on Instagram #wingswormsandwonder
Seeds to Sprout
Wonder Wednesday 61: Easy Sew Art Bag
Sew your own pouch! Use it for art supplies, gathering ephemera in nature, or whatever you like!
The Tiny Activist Project
Glimpse into the history of craftivism via women's suffrage banners with Sarah Marsom of the Tiny Activist Project
New to embroidery? Check out these basic stitches!
I embroidered this design by Sean Mahan in the "back stitch"