Handmade Nation was in my neck of the woods


Last night I had the chance to attend a screening of Handmade Nation at the Museum of Contemporary Craft here in Portland. Most of you are probably pretty familiar with the culture of DIY, but author and director, Faythe Levine has done a great job of bringing many of the diverse activities within the community (whether it be people who make things for fun or profit, galleries or shops, etc.) in to an inspiring film for anyone who makes things, wants to make things or who supports those who make things.

The film struck a cord with me naturally, since I'm a graphic designer by trade, who has chosen to eschew the world of corporate design in order to do work that I believe is important and fulfilling. In addition to art directing Bitch, I usually have a personal project in the works which allows me to follow my specific interests and to answer to no one but myself. If I'm lucky, sometimes I can make some money off that project. And that's what this film is about: People making a space for what they want to do and often making a living off it as well.

Levine follows some well known makers like embroidery artist Jenny Hart, paper-cut artist, Nikki McClure, and talented designer/illustrator/zinester (as well as my colleague in the Portland State design department), Kate Bingaman-Burt—but I found that many of the makers were new to me, and doing really unique things. My favorite group in the film, perhaps, is a collective called Knitta. In actions akin to graffiti art, Knitta 'tags' public objects like stop signs and lamp posts, but instead of spray paint and pens—their medium is knits. The segment in which the group is out on a an adventure, hopping in and out of cars and collectively wrapping various signs and poles was really fun and endearing. I wish they were in my town so I might catch a glimpse of a candy colored stop sign pole one day out of the blue.

I won't go on, but will just recommend that you check out the film if it makes it to your town. The schedule for screening is at the Handmade Nation blog, and if you don't see anything close to you, check back regularly as I believe new dates are often being added.

So have any of you seen the movie or read the book? Are you making a living off what you make?

by Briar Levit
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2 Comments Have Been Posted

So, I am a gal who has

So, I am a gal who has always loved making stuff with my hands and body -- music, art, crafts, gardening, etc. I wouldn't necessarily place myself in the "DIY" movement, but that culture has certainly rubbed off on me. Watching this film clip, I was struck by how very white it was. I'm a white woman -- and I'm curious to hear from others. Is the DIY crafts movement a white movement? Do you see race/gender/sexual orientation/class/other diversity in this movement? This film seems to profile people who are actually making $ off of their labors, unlike me who just crafts for myself and to give as gifts. I've never sold anything I've made. So -- what do you think? Where is the diversity? Is DIY culture linked to privilege?

cq, I agree that the DIY

cq, I agree that the DIY culture (as portrayed in the film) is pretty dang white. I also don't think it's a big stretch to say that priveledge has allowed a lot of the people in the DIY scene portrayed in the film, to do the things they are doing—I'm definitely one of them. That said, it would be fantastic to hear from women who identify outside of that group and what they are doing, making and keeping/selling.

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