Victoria University researchers have explored why busy, contemporary women pursue home-based craft-making as part of a unique project, ‘The Everyday Creativity of Women Craftmakers’.
Dr Enza Gandolfo and Dr Marty Grace interviewed women from around Victoria to find out what craftmaking meant to them, and any links they perceived between their craftmaking and their wellbeing.
The two researchers had known each other as academics at the University for several years before they discovered they shared a ‘slightly guilty secret’ – a passion for fabrics and sewing. Their conversations about their own craftmaking inspired them to develop the project, which is sponsored by Victoria University and Spotlight Pty Ltd.
The pair uncovered a range of motivations for craftmaking, including personal expression, social and family connection, a source of distraction, joy and pleasure. The most common reason they heard over and over – “it keeps me sane” – became the title of a book and a short film featuring the women and their crafts.
Project participants included a woman who sews her own clothes without patterns, another who knits daily on the train, and another who uses Japanese kimono fabric to make quilts. ‘The Wednesday Quilters’, a group of women who have met weekly for almost 30 years, were also featured.
An exhibition featuring the women’s craftwork will include large and small items, including origami art, a knitted wedding dress, magnificent quilts, quilled jewellery and highly original scarves. The exhibition will be opened on Thursday 12 February at Victoria University. At the same time, the film and book associated with the projected entitled: ‘… it keeps me sane … women craft wellbeing’ will be released.
Dr Grace said: “This is an exciting project and we have approached it in a way that honours and celebrates the everyday creativity of the participants. The project reflects the joy, comfort and social connection that the women find in makings things that are both beautiful and functional.”