The life-changing magic of craft

I have been reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, a tongue-in-cheek gift from my family who think I tidy too much as it is. I’ll admit right now that I haven’t yet finished it, but already the book has produced a variety of conflicting emotions in me.

A smugness when I realised I already organise my wardrobe as per the KonMari method. Yes, I am slightly judging myself for this. Admittedly I haven’t ever done the discarding bit so it’s not exactly your ideal capsule wardrobe…

Bafflement as to where all the binbags go. The author is constantly reeling off how many bin bags of ‘rubbish’ they manage to remove from each of her clients’ properties. There is never any mention of taking discarded clothes to clothes banks or charity shops, not to mention all the books and ornaments that have been ejected from their former homes.

Loathing of her theory on books. I will keep them all. I will find space for them all. One day I will read them. Probably. And if not, they’re still pretty.

Slight guilt when I burst out laughing at a testimonial from one of Marie Kondo’s clients that reads: “Your course taught me to see what I really need and what I don’t. So I got a divorce. Now I feel much happier.” What can I say? I have always had a rather dark sense of humour…

A spine-tingling thrill when I read the section on how to decide what should be kept and discarded. It’s so simple, it’s brilliant: does it make you happy? You have to hold the item in question in your hands and see whether it brings you joy. If it doesn’t it goes in one of those binbags with a mysterious fate (here’s hoping not landfill).

This spine-tingling thrill is because it is exactly how I think about craft. Well, almost. It makes me happy, unequivocally, but there is more to it than that. I love that craft has a story, a history, a person and place behind it. Blood, sweat and tears if you will. Or a more romantic triumvirate of remote studios, fantastic inspirations and traditional implements such as pottery wheels and looms if you prefer.

And it’s not just me. In our interview with Carl Honoré, pioneer of all things slow, Carl said something similar:

“Our home is full of handmade objects – clay pots, ceramic tiles, wooden bowls…Each piece tells a story – of who made it, where it came from and why we bought it, what was happening in our lives at the time. I often find myself pausing to stop and stare. Taking a slow moment to savour an object again and delve back into the memories it evokes. You don’t do that with mass-produced plastic objects.” - Carl Honoré

Who wouldn’t want this in their lives?

Maybe you’ve made your resolutions for the year already, maybe you’ve broken them already, but there’s always room for one more…resolutions aren’t just made in January, despite popular belief.

Why not embark upon a new relationship with your possessions by welcoming craft into your home? Craft doesn’t have to be expensive or impractical, in fact, it is often the opposite, and you’ll be amazed how easily it can fit into your life. I’m not saying you should throw the Ikea catalogue out of the window – they produce some great things – but this year, try Slow Buying and treat yourself to at least one item that is not mass-produced.

Take your time to fall in love with it, to discover its story, to give it a purpose. You could buy it as a reward for an achievement or mark a special day in your life to give the piece even stronger positive associations. It could be the mug you use for your morning coffee to start off your day with a smile, the blanket you snuggle in with your Significant Other (perhaps an anniversary gift for you both?), something you treat yourself to when you get a promotion or finally complete a huge piece of work, a commission you work on with the designer maker so that you get exactly what you want…

Craft is personal, and that in itself is magical in a world of mass-produced, mass-marketed goods, most of which you’re pretty glad you don’t know the backstories for.