There are many different contributory factors as to why craft-produced textiles maintain a place in our society.
In Surrey, where I live, people are affluent and indulge in their passion for beautiful things, hand-crafted items are attractive, unique and often crafted from high-quality materials. The artistry of a craft-produced textile is respected and admired and some support the local craftsperson for the simple reason that they love the pieces produced, but there are other factors to consider.
Many people are becoming increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of consumerism so consideration for sustainable living is a big factor. Craft-produced textiles help us manage our natural resources. For example, to sustain british sheep farming it is important to buy and use british wool. Local enterprises like The Little Grey Sheep at Well Manor Farm are passionate about british farming and traditional crafts and all their products are made from 100% natural british wool.
Ethical practice is another influence. In her company, Izzy Lane, Eco fashion designer Isobel Davis uses british wool from wensleydale and shetland sheep that she has saved from slaughter.
In the same way that the Food industry has benefitted from consumer demand for organic and ethically produced goods, people are looking for the same standards in other merchandise. Buying british hand-crafted textiles and supporting the local workforce is promoting craft-produced textiles in our communities.
Lifestyle choices like those reflected in slow food, slow sewing and slow design are important to people in today’s society.
More importantly, it is vital that the history and heritage of craft skills are protected. The makers of craft-produced textiles are doing this by retaining traditions, valuing, promoting and transferring skills.
The Craft Council and partners launched an Education Manifesto for Craft and Making on 10th November, 2014 in the House of Commons which champions the need to secure the future of craft education.
In Edmund de Vaal’s speech at the launch of the manifesto, he says craft is “about being embedded in material, embedded in encounters with people and about being embedded in time” He feels that craft is central, absolutely central.’ I think this passion in people who create, their need to work with their hands and their commitment to their craft also helps to maintain hand-crafted goods in our communities.
The Manifesto also indicates that “Craft generates £3.4bn for the economy and 150,000 people are employed in businesses driven by craft skills. Craft enriches our society and economy in may ways…”
The above points illustrate why craft-produced textiles maintain a place in society, but it is a fragile economy and the work of the Crafts Council in pushing for change to secure the future of craft education is absolutely vital in my opinion.
Crafts Magazine Issue 252