Whose Craft Is It,
BY RACHEL HOBSON & DIANE GILLELAND
Elder crafters respond to the slogan “Not your grandma’s craft.”
Visit the craft aisle of your local bookstore, or
surf the web, and you’re bound to run into
this phrase sooner or later: “This isn’t your
grandma’s knitting.” Or crochet. Or quilting. Just fill
in the last word with any craft.
On the one hand, this little marketing ditty makes
sense. We’re definitely in the midst of a crafting
renaissance, and in many ways, we’re making things
very differently than our mothers and grandmothers.
But look a little closer, and you’ll find plenty of so-
called “grandmas” participating in the modern craft
culture and staking their own turf by making some very cool things. “It sounds like the slogan of
There’s no question that crafting has changed a lot in recent decades. Socorro Rivera,
87, remembers it people who have no idea what
this way: “In those days, girls had to know how to sew, crochet, knit, and embroider. That’s what we were the history of craft in America
taught in school in Mexico to get ready for marriage.” Today, Rivera, who crochets, knits, makes jewelry, is all about.”
and sews in her home near Los Angeles, has her
own page on Hannah Kopacz’ website, called Made But the resurgence of the handmade movement
With Love by Grandma. under the banner “This isn’t your grandma’s” has
Fredda Perkins, 62, mother of Naughty Secretary left some seasoned crafters with mixed emotions.
Club’s Jennifer Perkins, marvels at modern craft “On the one hand, when I first heard it, I knew
technology. “I learned to sew on a treadle sewing exactly what they meant, so that is a good thing for
machine! Now machines are computerized and will marketing,” Kirchner says. “But it got old really fast.
do just about everything but kiss your ass when you Now it sounds like the slogan of people who have no
walk in the room,” says the self-described “immediate idea what the history of craft in America is all about.”
gratification crafter,” who makes purses, pillows, True, most of what’s considered hip in the craft
and broken plate mosaics in McKinney, Texas. world these days isn’t what our grandmothers were
Speaking of computers, what about the internet? doing. But the roots of today’s craft brilliance grow
Crafters in their 20s and 30s seem to love it, but in the rich soil tilled by our grandparents.
what about those in their 50s and beyond? “Every new generation brings something different
“I honestly cannot imagine how I would still and innovative to the artistic stage,” Perkins says.
be doing my work if I had not found the [online]
community,” says Boston-based doll artist Mimi
Kirchner, 54, who mixes vintage and reclaimed
fabrics with a variety of fiber arts techniques to
create contemporary human portraits.
“It is a constant validation,” she adds. “People
are interested in what I do, they check out my new
work. And then there is the other side, seeing what
everybody else is doing. The cross-pollination. The
ocean of images.”