Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills, written and illustrated by Raleigh Briggs, is a charming guide that provides recipes for homemade housekeeping. Briggs shows her readers how to make their own tinctures, fabric softener, deodorant, toothpaste, seed starting mix, and window cleaner. And her collection of do-it-yourself tutorials are all approachable and cheap. I'm grateful to Briggs for introducing me to several recipes which have assisted me in cleaning house affordably and sustainably, and I'm pretty into the fact that this book is handwritten with adorable illustrations. But my favorite thing about this book is the way that it legitimizes DIY housekeeping as a radical, fun, and empowering activity. Briggs prefaces the book by saying that she felt pretty square when preparing for her first housekeeping workshop, which was to be part of DIY Academy, "a short-lived but glorious low-cost summer school...at the zine archive in Seattle." She worried about how DIY housekeeping would fare next to other workshops, which tuned her into the fact that DIY activities that take place in the domestic sphere don't seem as cool as, say, "making beer + building bikes."
But after teaching a class on herbal first aid and natural housekeeping, Briggs realized how important it is that natural housekeeping be taken seriously within the DIY community:
I came to realize that my skepticism about the importance of these acts was based on a cultural belief that the domestic sphere is somehow less important than the public sphere. Which, of course, is such a load of crap. If we DIY only the elective, recreational parts of our lives - or only what other people can see - then how much of our lives are we really reclaiming?Well said, lady. In addition to Make Your Place, Briggs recently released a zine called How To Make Soap: Without Burning Your Face Off, which she was generous enough to donate to us at the Portland Zine Symposium this summer. You know what that means, Portlanders? We've got all of her publications available at our lending library.