We know by now that one positive way to promote change is by making conscious purchases. We did it with a certain chicken fast food chain and now we can do it with arts and crafts. I know it seems surprising, but there are arts and crafts stores out there that value their employees! Surprising, right?!

The thing about Hobby Lobby is that they sell literally nothing you can’t buy in every craft store ever. The Hobby Lobby in Fort Collins is legitimately across the street from a Michaels, two blocks from Jo-Ann and down the road from a handful of local indie craft spots. You don’t need Hobby Lobby. Even if you live in a town where there is only a Hobby Lobby (I don’t completely believe such a place exists because local craft spots are everywhere), most places sell online, even the indies.

This resource list to buying craft supplies from places that value their employees isn’t as comprehensive as it could be, but it’s a start. You can help us fill in the amazing local indie places from your town by letting me know in the comments! Together, we can ensure that no feminist need ever set foot inside those prejudiced, orange doors Monday through Saturday ever again.

CLICK through the ABOVE LINK for a Comprehensive List (with links) of Alternative Craft Stores Both Chain and Independent!

Happy Crafting and Boycotting!
~Susan

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Featuring work from: Modern Girl Blitz, Alena Webber, Tabby Farrar, A.J Jonathan, Ally Dalloway, Emily Frances-Foot, Tululla Belle, Anna Grrrl, and myself, the first issue of Femme Sole zine will be available to download as a PDF from this blog at Midnight GMT. Submissions are open for the second issue, themed DIY or Die, and should be sent to femmesolezine@gmail.com.

Even in the past, I contend, the exclusion of women from the artistic realm could not extinguish all their aesthetic needs. These creative impulses, however, were shunted off into the ‘pre-aesthetic realms,’ where they evaporated under the strain of women’s daily routine. Women furnished the living quarters, set the tables, arranged, decorated and adorned their clothing, and above all themselves. That was allowed, as long as it was being done to please the man. These activities quickly corrupted women. They set the table for the man, they dressed and adorned themselves for the man—not for themselves or for each other, but rather in competition with each other. They busied themselves weaving and knitting, but such functional artworks, handicrafts, and decorations have always been considered inferior, commonplace. This verdict is of course not entirely unfair, especially in those cases where even the most timid efforts were channeled into subservient obsequiousness and excessive affection-seeking.

…On the one hand we see aesthetic activity deformed, atrophied, but on the other we find, even within this restricted scope, socially creative impulses which, however, have no outlet for aesthetic development, no opportunities for growth. These impulses could not be concretely realized, nor could they lead to an artificial desire to experiment.

It is true that these activities never had to become static, unchanging artistic norms. They never became obsolete products, they remained bound to every-day life, feeble attempts to make this sphere more aesthetically pleasing. But the price for this was narrowmindedness. The object could never leave the realm in which it came into being, it remained tied to the household, it could never break loose and initiate communication…

But what would happen if someday we cleared out this realm and opened it only to ourselves and other women? What if we alternated painting our faces with painting on canvas? What if we turned recipes into poetry? What if all these activities were to shed their utilitarian rationale of male approval?

Attempting to knit the gap between the artistic realm and social reality is problematic in that this gap is not simply the result of foolish blunder but is rather the result of particular preconditions. …However, it is difficult simply to go back, optimistically to take up again those ‘feminine’ media—letters, weaving. It is, in fact, almost more difficult to do this than to work with the ‘unfeminine’ technical media such as film, since these need not contend with being traditionally relegated to the domain of the housewife. We should not foster the false assumption that our sewing teachers indeed pointed us in the right direction. There is no direct path from the decorative potholder to the tapestries of Abakanovicz. Besides, I am still horrified by the whole ruffles-and-sewing-basket business we were subjected to as young girls.

I believe that feminine artistic production takes place by means of a complicated process involving conquering and reclaiming, appropriating and formulating, as well as forgetting and subverting.

— 

(Silvia Bovenschen, “Is There a Feminine Aesthetic?” trans. Beth Weckmueller. 1976. This is in Feminism-Art-Theory if you need it.)

I was throwing together some citations for Katy on the justifications for reclamation of ‘feminine’ craft, Judy Chicago et cetera. (More of those to come.) I read this because I never had before, and I think (if nothing else) it offers an introduction to some of the questions. It’s also maybe the first thing I’ve ever seen that explicitly links makeupping to to other fields of what historians and anthropologists used to call “reproductive” pursuits, like making baskets and “decorative potholders.” I like (“like”) that.

It’s easy to make fun, but it’s still useful to the conversation (even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense): the feminist potential in reclaiming (for example) knitting lies in restricting men’s access to it, removing it from the utilitarian realm, or reclaiming it in selfishness. I think these points do kind of cover each of the arguments—the political frivolity of yarn art, the self-sufficient potential of of crafting, the sharing of ‘women’s’ knowledge. (She kind of doesn’t explain her preoccupation with the masculine public sphere and masculinized “legitimate” arts though, lol.) While Judy Chicago’s work wasn’t so much in it for the “stab yer sewing teacher” angle (and can you even believe that line, I am still laughing), but Womanhouse’s principles sort of come from the same place. It’s just, like, Judy Chicago didn’t hate moms so fucking much.

One of my first reactions was that this woman was writing this TWO DECADES after Louise Bourgeois started the whole “I love my dead weaving mama and that’s why I haven’t abandoned my knitting needles” thing in fiber arts. (I can’t help but compare “stab yer sewing teacher” to Bourgeois’s use of feminine craft toward Deconstruction of the Father, but whaaaatever.) And Judy Chicago (who was really into Gerda Lerner, one of the people who started the practice of ‘discovering’ and writing a ‘women’s history’) (OH MY GOD Gerda Lerner just died, where was I) was really concerned with using ‘feminine’ craft as a way to reclaim a history of women made invisible, and this has everything to do with learning from and loving yer mom (and not killing yer sewing teacher, probably).

Maybe surprisingly, the whole “sewing is ONLY SOMETHING YOU WOULD DO TO PLEASE A PATRIARCH” thing doesn’t come up in art theory very often, (maybe because it’s stupid), but that doesn’t mean “the radical potential of sewing lies in keeping it between women” isn’t worth thinking about. I think the whole “POTHOLDERS ARE INFERIOR” argument didn’t hold up in feminist criticism…maybe for a reason.

(“RECIPES INTO POETRY” girl you probably should just learn to be a better cook.)