Crafting Change: Handmade Activism, Past and Present

Farrar. Oct. 2022. 208p. pap. $24.99. ISBN 9780374313326.
Gr 6 Up–The 2016 Women’s March tipped off “a new wave of appreciation for handicrafts and women’s work.” Here, meet some of the artivists who revived a sense of community while raising awareness around issues, such as Black Lives Matter, climate crisis, and gender inequality, via handiwork. Vitkus who recounts her own history as an artivist, organizes the book by types of handiwork, from embroidery to quilting to knitting to a catch-all chapter that includes using stencils, cake decoration, beading, graffiti, wheatpasting, and zine-making. Each chapter offers historical context and project ideas. While many of these crafts are designed simply to embellish and “decorate,” artivists use them to change consciousness, create human billboards, and design timely messaging via aerial photography, graffiti, flyering, or social media. Reading the interview excerpts with craftivists, such as Black Girl Magic Portraits creator Melissa Blount, Pussyhat Project creators Jayna Zweiman and Krista Suh, and organizations like the Be Seen Project, will give any craftivist or crafting club lots of steam and concrete ways to connect with a wider community. Doing handiwork together, sew-ins, quilting circles, and knitting clubs, is age-old and gives a source of joy and purpose in times of crisis, provides anger management, and as Shannon Downey describes it, even presents a way out of phone addiction.
VERDICT An excellent purchase for all libraries, expertly organized to document the psychological benefits and historical and contemporary ways crafting brings communities together in action.

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