For the last two days I’ve been working on a project for my daughter for Mother’s Day. (Here’s a picture of it in an early stage and yes I know you’re wondering if I’m simply making a stack of potholders but no I’m not.)
In any event, while I worked on the present, my mind was turning over whether fiber work is an art, craft or hobby.
I have noticed that many bloggers write about their fiber work as “crafting.” Looking at their blogs, I see what they create (knit, weave, crochet, dye, spin, etc.), and wonder how that can be seen as anything but art. Other bloggers identify themselves as mothers of young children who knit and/or crochet and/or weave (etc.) in their spare time. So is each of those “just” a hobby? Again, I see the pictures they share and read what they write: There’s NO “just” about any of it! Given the beauty and creativity of their work, again, I think of it as art. Am I being overly picky about semantics?
I am of the generation where many of our mothers (like mine) attempted to raise their daughters to be “ladies” who (like me) were not cooperative but struggled to be respected as autonomous, self-defining individuals. In those days – and in my experience, at least in the U.S. – my fiber art served to label me as “domestic” and, thus, destined to be a dutiful wife and mother. My mother and I fought mightily about this – and that started when I was a little girl and certainly long before I read The Feminine Mystique.
Perhaps that’s why I am a little defensive about defining women’s fiber tell people how to describe their work?
Remembering that everything changes over time – meaning of words, fiber arts, perceptions and expectations – I pulled out the dictionary. (Okay, again, that reflects my generation … I no longer even have a hard copy dictionary.)
- Art: The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, … works produced by such skill and imagination.
- Craft: Sometime that’s handmade.
- Hobby: An activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.
So back to my original conundrum: Are fiber arts art, craft or hobbies?
The answer: Yes.