Embroidery · Fiber Art · Needle Felting

How Craftivism has helped me cope under stress

I think I can speak on behalf of a group of people in regards to feeling extremely overwhelmed when it comes to the media both via television and online. It is unavoidable to run into bickering or all out screaming matches with THE USE OF CAPSLOCK when you just want to look at cute cats pictures. I definitely feel that it’s important to spread awareness about the injustices currently happening, yet the problem is that with there being so many, we are unable to handle what to tackle first.

I’ve been using craftivism as a form of therapeutic introspection since early last semester. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I’ll break out the embroidery loom and stab it a few hundred times. (Thank Shannon Downey for the visual.) Same goes for a crochet loom or my newfound hobby of knitting. I’ve only managed to get the knit and pearl down pat, but slow and steady progress, right? I find that creating as a response leaves a satisfying result, especially being able to hold a physical manifestation of something positive created from negative.

By Jess DeAngelis
Needle felted boobie pins, and a needle felted uterus necklace.

Needle felting is also a relief sensational craft, as you get to repeatedly poke loose wool roving, and sculpt it into anything you like. It’s pretty easy to take up the hobby, seeing as a graphic design major like myself has had success with sculpting various intricate shapes. Finding material is a bit difficult, as Michaels usually only sells the roving in kits, but I recommend ordering wool online on sites like Weir Crafts.

Part of the beauty I find with craftivism is that participation is wider than your typical protest. Take the Pussyhat for example, women who are unable to physically march knit/crochet hats to be worn on the heads of other participants on their behalf. This makes activism inclusive to those with physical disabilities or those struggling with social anxiety. It would be interesting to see social craft projects develop similarly as the Pussyhat took social media by storm.

Some last food for thought is the consideration that activism can be more enjoyable when catering it towards something you’re already passionate about. While I may be passionately in love with crafting, it may not exactly be up everyone else’s alley. I had the privilege of meeting Ashley Jackson, a harpist who is “Deputy Director of The Dream Unfinished, a diverse collective of classical musicians and activists who promote NYC-based civil rights and community organizations through concerts and presentations.” Ashley emphasized how activism can have a more satisfying and less mentally draining effect when you’re combining it with something you love. As an “introverted, somewhat-geeky harpist”, it makes complete sense for her to be involved with The Dream Unfinished. Just as it makes sense for myself, an “introverted, somewhat-geeky crafter” to be involved with craftivism.


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