"Everything in excess is opposed to nature."

  • 25 Xerox boxes full of yarn
  • a 8' tall by 10' wide handmade two-door wood cabinet full of smaller craft supplies in organizer bins
  • a huge three-drawer dresser full of ribbons, buttons and trim
  • baskets and baskets full of cross stitch and embroidery patterns
  • hundreds of unfinished craft projects, including intricate crocheted doilies and snowflakes, baby blankets, and other doodads
That's what we inherited when my Nanny died...when we learned the true extent of her crafting addiction. The woman was a hoarder, no doubt, and she was particularly fixated upon crafts. If Ben Franklin had one of those big sale bins full of cross stitch kits, she would've purchased every last one of them. There was always someone who needed a stuffed flour sack magnet for their fridge, or an angel ornament for their Christmas tree with the same hair/eye color as their children or grandchildren. Eventually, because my mother and I were unable to go through every last bit of these crafty supplies, we wound up donating and selling a vast majority of the excess. Sometimes, when I log onto craft selling sites or look at my own crafty stash, I wonder where we're headed.

My understanding of craft is not what we see at American Craft Council shows and on high end blogs. For all intents and purposes, craft to me is a method by which a person makes something they need. Whether you're making an apron, a flower bed or a personal or decorative adornment, crafting is stepping away from mainstream manufacturing and endeavoring to create on your own, for yourself and your closest loved ones. There is a deep amount of pride woven into the fabric of craft, and often elements of tradition and reverence for the past. Consequently, and despite my interest and involvement in the realm of craft for profit, I am often overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of crafted items available now that selling sites are growing in shockingly exponential numbers.

How much of the crafting for "profit" movement IS really green? How is the movement environmentally conscious? How much of this do we really need? Do we eliminate the eco-consciousness by sending packages around the world, using excessive electricity to power our shops via the internet, paper to wrap the treasures up? Are we caving to our instinctive gluttonous nature as human beings by indulging ourselves with countless pairs of earrings and knick-knacks in every corner of our homes?

You have to wonder where this will all go when it can't be sold...because no, it can't all be sold. I've given away a lot of stuff, not just in trade, because I cannot do anything else with it. Is crafting the satisfaction? Or is making money? How many landfills could we max out with the stash currently available on Etsy? How many trips to the moon could we make on a tightrope made of DMC floss? Is this excess? What the hell are we doing?

Quote courtesy of Hippocrates.

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All content © Meaghan O'Malley, 2009-2012. Header image by Rebekka Seale.