Mapping the Future of Craft

craftster button If you’ve never visited Craftster before, you’re missing out on the awesome designs of a lot of very creative people who are on the cutting edge of DIY culture. The mostly young demographic creates hip, modern twists on traditional arts and crafts.

It’s not your grandmother’s craft site. The Craftster forum features topics such as Stitch and Botch, Crafting for Good not Evil, Vegan Cooking, and Reconstructed Clothing, as well as the standard fare of show-and tell boards, tool and supply discussions, listings of local fairs, and advice on starting a business. The tagline, “No Tea Cozies Without Irony” sums it up very well.

Each post includes a “this rocks” button which has a clever icon of the two fingered ‘devil sign’ often flashed at rock concerts. Pressing it enables you to vote on the work, the best make it to the Featured Projects section on the site’s front page. Where else could you find a felt espresso machine, soap the looks like a raw steak or a cross-stitched portrait of Queen frontman Freddy Mercury? Most purported hip, new trends on HGTV or the DIY network have their roots in sites like this one.

Leah Kramer started Craftster in 2003. It now has over 75,000 members and recently received a mention in the Time Magazine article “50 Coolest Websites of 2006”.

NJ Craftster Heatmap

There are many message boards on the site, including a regional-specific NJ one that I frequent (in search of nearby crochet groups – hello TRKnitters!) One of its members, bethiej78, generously provided a heatmap showing the locations of all the participating craftsters in the thread. The map received enhusiastic responses from as far away as San Diego (!); I suspect the author will add more locations if the need arises. I think that the time and effort it takes to create something like this may qualify it as a craft in its own right.

I often think about the increasing overlap of digital and traditional mediums (Crafster discussion here). Digital artist trading cards (ATC’s), knitting graphs produced in photoshop, and online color palette generators are blurring the whole line between technology and craft. We now have tools at our disposal to create a whole new genre (cue the herioc star-wars type music here), equal parts fiber and fiber optic – a bastard child of post-modern pop culture and time-honored folk artistry. It’s become easier to find a voice via “social networking” on the internet. For me especially, the prospect of positive feedback from my community is great inspiration, on all levels. As Sen. Clinton paraphrased the African proverb, it really does take a village. So think globally and craft locally. You’ll be glad you did.

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3 Comments »

  1. Deneen said

    Neat-I’m a member of Craftster, but don’t get there as much as the other sites. I asked to be put on the NJ Map (only one inAtlantic County)-sniff

  2. jchinique said

    Deneen, I saw a neat mapping utility for blogs or websites called “gVisit”, which shows the locations of recent visitors, which would be pretty cool if you post a lot of local content. We don’t have a huge community here either, especially if you’re a homebody like me.

  3. Acarpous said

    im in ur blogz, stalkin ur likez

    ;)

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