The need to rename Craft – a gender issue?

Here’s a little thought that has been worming inside my head ever since I read this article in my blog stream. It’s a half-formed argument, but that’s what a blog is for, right?…

This article on the design history online publication Unmaking Things is really interesting. Thanks Caterina Tiezzi for making my brain work, forging little connections here and there about different issues that have been published online about Craft of late (especially this one – Craft Identity Statement as it implies that the definition is somehow broken.) There has been a lot of noise on the subject, and obviously by my use of noise back there, I don’t think that the articles, nor their attempts at determining a way forward, have been clear, or useful.

In her article Craft & Technology in the Newsagent’s Shelf: A Look Through Magazines, Tiezzi sticks to provable facts. And they are very compelling. And, I’ll say it again, so interesting. In the context of the other articles that I’ve been reading, this straight forward article begs the question, why does craft have this identity confusion? Or perhaps more correctly, why do the craft the people who are around me – who are engaged in selling Craft – have confusion?

In the newsagent craft is a specific and uniformly branded thing. It’s very simple. And über feminine. Cloying, yes, childish, perhaps, but simple to grasp, as is necessary in a refined retail environment. The signs are easy to read, and as such signifier and signified are all in alignment.

In the the craft world, the one I have experience in (but pretty much refuse to get into the nitty gritty of the current arguments – there’s no time!) there’s so much confusion, so much. Everyone wants to help out the term in a way that is comprehensive and simple. Well, Tiezzi’s distillation is a dose of clarity, that could not get more simple. Do you want to be aligned with that? If you don’t, either get ready to rehabilitate the word, or get out of the craft business.

Too simplistic? Perhaps. But it’s also why, when pressed, I go with research jeweller, art jeweller, or just plain artist. It’s not cos I wanna be in the big white room up against their racket. It’s because I don’t wanna be in the little pink room with the 1/4 scale furniture.

Ya dig?