Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Slow Making, Slow Craft, and Slow Cloth

There are a growing number of artisans who are applying the slow movement's principles to the world of crafts, and I'd like to draw a little attention to their work and their writing.

Australian blog Slow Making have been intermittently publishing in-depth posts since 2006 on topics from sourcing wood to printmaking to philosophical musings on the withered role of the seamstress in our society - it's a truly fascinating read. Their Manifesto is:
"1. To strive for appropriate excellence in the making process.2. To make objects that enhance the life of the user.3. To know the origins of our materials, ensuring that they respect the country and the communities who produced or harvested them, and are from sustainable sources.4. To make objects that will last, can be easily repaired when necessary and are made using materials and processes that do not harm the makers, the community or the environment.5. To deal with our co-workers, clients, suppliers and sellers in an ethical and fair manner.6. To foster, utilise and pass on skills that enhance the making process.7. To enjoy and relish the way of slow making."
The travelling exhibit Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution at their last venue,
via Making A Slow Revolution.
Other Slow proponents from the world of fine craft are more explicit (as per the principles of slow design) in discussing the mindfulness, localness, interactiveness, and community-building aspects of their work, in addition to the temporal and qualitative aspects of their process. All of these figured in a travelling exhibit from Birmingham's Craftspace entitled Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution, curated by Helen Carnac, which wrapped in June 2011 and was followed in July by a Slow Summit with slowLab's Alastair Fuad-Luke in July. The blog that chronicles the exhibit proposal and the reflections of several of the contributing artists is well worth reading. Everyone associated with that project seem to use the term "slow craft" preferentially.

There is also a community of slow makers in the textile world who have adopted the term "slow cloth" for their work; Elaine Lipson of Red Thread Studio has a fantastic definition in her "10 Qualities Of Slow Cloth" in her sidebar. I won't quote it here, but she definitely speaks my language: joy, contemplation, skill, history, community, diversity, quality. I also recommend you check out her article on slow cloth for HandEye magazine, and the Slow Cloth group on Facebook for ongoing discussions.

The slow movement seems like a natural fit for anyone who is immersed in a life where process and product are intimately connected - so I'm actually a little surprised that I didn't find more artisans talking about the slow movement in connection to their work when I went looking. Did I miss a term that's being used instead?

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