Why is all this classed as "mancraft"? January 30, 2017 18:58 2 Comments
I love working with resistant materials (RMs). Recently at London Craft Club we've branded wood, etched glass and used laser cutters, and our next RM session is metal working with copper to create a candelabra.
Every time we do these RM workshops, they get referred to as "mancraft". So why is it that anything that's not textiles is still perceived that way? Don't us ladies get to use the power tools? Will metal work ruin our nails?
I remember how in primary school, my teachers wanted us to explore all kinds of materials and how they worked. I was encouraged to paint, to stitch, to chop things out of balsa wood and to mould clay. One teacher even gave me a little hacksaw to work with.
But my secondary school was for girls, and the only material we got to carry on with was textiles. Don’t get me wrong – I love to sew and I’m grateful to my Home Ec teacher for showing me how to put in an invisible zip and ease a sleeve. She taught me about how fabric is made and why it behaves as it does. But still, girls didn’t do DT. My school's approach was considered "traditional" rather than outrageously sexist, and that's the context we crafted in as kids.
Luckily my Dad was on hand, and quite happy to show my how to use his circular saw, router and the rest of the woodworking power tools in the garage. When I got to art college and discovered the Wood Metals and Plastic workshops I went machinery bonkers for the first term.
I hammered, punched, sawed, drilled, filed, and welded to my heart’s content. It was joyous to switch on all that industrial sized machinery and discover that there was nothing stopping me from slicing up stuff on a huge scale.
It’s different in school now - a bit more like my art college experience. DT is a broad ranging subject, about exploring design processes and ideas and understanding materials. It’s for boys and girls, and includes textiles alongside technology.
London Craft Club's last Resistant Materials workshops were snapped up by 95% women - indeed our upcoming metal work session is led by the very glam Melodie Telliez, We most of us don't relish the idea of craft being divided on gender lines, but you don't see that much RM craft being offered to women. So, ladies of London Craft Club - here it is. Metal work and Pyrography for February, and look out for more coming up this Spring and Summer.
(Don't think we're giving up on textiles - Mr X Stitch is at the top of his game and we need to give him a run for his money... )
What was school craft like for you? Cushion covers and meatloaf in Home Ec? Inspirational design insight? And did you like craft at school, or only rediscover it later on? Let me know in the comments what it was like for you