…the fantastic art and craft work being produced by artists and makers using traditional craft techniques but with a completely modern, alternative and subversive style, context and subject matter.
The alternative craft scene is thriving and flourishing, especially since the advent of the internet…
Its roots are in the DIY punk scenes that came out of the United States in the early 1990s. Hence, alternative craft is often called DIY Craft, also to distinguish it from its traditional and twee-er forebear. Other names for DIY and Indie Craft are New Wave Craft, Subversive Craft and Craftivism (Craft + Activism- usually when the work contains more political or socially conscious subject matter).
…artists who have taken craft techniques to a new level and have blurred or completely broken through the line between art and craft.
Indie/DIY craft can be viewed as a response to the homogenous mass production and mass consumption that is synonymous with the modern world. The scene’s continued rise in popularity can also be attributed to the current economic and environmental crises we face. As Magda Sayeg of Knitta Please puts it:
I’m part of the DIY craft movement that emphasises handmade artistry as a reaction to the mass-produced culture we’re immersed in.
If you make handmade items, whether for practical reasons (clothing or home wares) for decorative reasons, or as gifts, you are turning your back on the mass-produced items found on most high streets or in shopping malls. You are creating something unique, personal and special. A lot of indie crafters/artists use recycled or vintage materials, and making something yourself by hand from recycled materials obviously has less impact on the environment.
Textile-based crafting has traditionally been seen as a domestic, female-dominated (if not exclusively female) hobby or pastime and usually not as an art form in its own right. Several Indie Crafts artists are striving to change that perception. As embroidery artist Jenny Hart explains:
Embroidery serves no function, and is almost always secondary to a functional object (a pillowcase; a tea cosy). As an artist, one of my considerations is to make this type of needlework embellishment the substance of the subject and the object itself.
Any feminists who have bemoaned the current rise of craft shouldn’t worry, as both men and women are partaking in the new wave. Indie Craft isn’t about keeping women busy, as it may have been in previous centuries, and it isn’t purely decorative art. Today’s craft is also about empowerment: feeling a sense of achievement when making something with your own hands. It’s about taking a stand or making a statement against this modern, digital, disposable age of mass production and consumption that is leading the world into environmental and economical ruin. It’s about creating something you might not have ‘needed’ to make yourself- you could have gone to any shop and bought, for instance, an (unfeasibly, unsustainably) cheap, mass-machine-made scarf or jumper- but that gave you the sense of achievement and empowerment that comes from learning and perfecting a skill, making a unique item by yourself, for yourself or for a gift, and in many cases making a small, independent business out of your creations.-extracts from the introduction to 'Indie Craft' by Jo Waterhouse, 2010.