Crafting for Purpose
19th March 2021
If there is one thing we love hearing about, it is people who take their passion for crafting and use it for something wonderful. We’ve said time and time again how needlework in particular, and the art of craft in general, provides people with a common purpose, and often brings people together. But there are plenty of individuals who take that to the next level and work to spread the love and care into the wider world.
Craftsmen working on parchin kari inlaid stonework at Studio Lél (source)
You don’t have to spend too much time with the news media to know that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the world who are facing tough times. Whether they are struggling through displacement, seeking refuge from unsustainable living conditions, or facing personal struggles due to physical or mental health issues, incarceration or addiction, sometimes it feels overwhelming and it is hard to know what to do to help.
But there are people who have seized their passion and added a whole heap of perseverance in order to make a difference.
These people know that, although they can’t change everything all at once, every single life they touch may be one life they’ve helped improve.
Abi Hewitt (middle) co-founder of Love Welcomes (source)
We’re talking about people like Abi Hewitt, co-founder of Love Welcomes. This organisation works to teach refugees new skills that they can use whilst they are in transition, as well as take with them for life. For instance, one of the first workshops they ran was in a refugee camp outside of Athens, where the group teaches Syrian women to weave.
The Love Welcomes doormat, made from threads recycled from life jackets. Design by Banksy. (source)
Items are made from discarded life jackets and blankets, and the organisation has benefited from the design skills of artists such as Banksy and textile artist Margo Selby.
Hand woven welcome mats (source)
The women involved are all paid a fair wage for their labour. However, it isn’t just the artisans who have benefited. The increased economic activity has encouraged several small businesses in the camps to set up. The model has worked so well, there are plans to open more workshops as long as there is a guarantee of sales. But Hewitt’s overall goal is to:
‘…give people a reason to wake up in the morning and feel they’re contributing to society.’
Others, such as Mending for Good, are bringing together such diverse people as prison inmates, refugees and recovering addicts, in order to teach them to re-make and re-purpose dead stock from some of the largest fashion houses in the world.
As well as offering people skills and a purpose, the organisation has the added environmental benefit of moving away from the fast-fashion treadmill and encouraging customers to value items that are carefully repurposed by hand.
Workers being trained as knitters as part of a Mending for Good initiative in Italy (source)
Overall, the many organisations that are turning to crafts, whether embroidery, sewing, weaving or any other artistic endeavour, have the dual goals of ensuring that people enjoy dignity and a living wage, whilst being able to learn useful skills that serve to help them and their communities in the future.
In a world of mass-production, we all know how important it is to value handmade.
How much better to know the items produced have also resulted in a better life for the person making them?
Organisations aside, we know of plenty of embroiderers who are doing the same kinds of things, albeit on a smaller scale. It could be anything from knitting for the homeless, selling your homemade items to raise money for a local charity, or even just sitting down with a neighbour who might have only just arrived in the country, and showing them how to stitch.
Made51’s workers producing hand-printed bags (source)
To make a difference to someone in need doesn’t require the backing of world-famous artists or the ability to move across borders. It can be as simple as spending time with someone and passing on your knowledge, so that they can take it on themselves.
If you’re lucky enough, you may also get the pleasure of watching them take what they’ve learnt and start to fly.