Sunday, 4 October 2009

A Lonely Craftivist RIP. Craftivist Collective welcome to the world! :)

Stop following this blog. follow instead (please) 

I've decided to do all my projects through my group Craftivist Collective. So this is my final blog as A Lonely Craftivist, sniff sniff :'(

As my lovely followers and friends know, I started up a group in January 2009 to try and meet other like-minded people who would be willing to do craftivism with me. I was really enjoying doing my 'A Lonely Craftivist' projects but wanted to share my joy of craftivism with others and people i knew seemed really keen to join in my projects so i thought why not. 

Since January the group has been growing in numbers. We now have over 130 members on our Facebook group (and thats without actively searching for people like some groups do), about 15 core active members who come to our monthly planning meetings and at in the last few events we have done we have had between 20 and 70 people participate in our projects. 

We have also been getting a lot of requests from other groups and individuals who want our group to do workshops, talks, or events with them which is so cool! We have worked with Ctrl Alt Shift, Spitalfields City Farm, Into the Woods Festival and will be working with Sheffield DocFest and Craft Guerrillas in the future. 

We would love it if you could follow our group blog and comment on that with feedback and constructive criticism to help us grow just like you guys have helped me grow in my craftivism. 

Thanks so much for all your encouragement, advice and support over the last year. Without your comments and support the Craftivist Collective would never have happened 

All my love and gratitude 
Sarah xxx 

Thursday, 4 June 2009

improved cake messages?

After all the lovely constructive comments on my blog and in person i recieved from the last cakes project (thanks everyone!) my group Craftivist Collective made new cakes. What do you think?
Again, they are made with Fairtrade and organic ingredients (apart from the sprinkles on top like flowers and icing tubes and marshmellows- anyone know where i can get ethical ones?). This time we made tags out of paper and toothpicks.
Half the cakes where lemon flavoured so had on the flags on one side saying "fairtrade lemon gluten free cakes". And on the other "Dont let injustice leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Take action against it :)". The chocolate flavoured cakes said 'Gluten free fairtrade chocolate cakes" on one side and the other said said "Most cocoa farmers will never get the chance to afford to experience the taste of chocolate".
We sold them at Spitalfields market to raise money for charity. They went down really well and most people were really shocked about our cocoa farmer fact. Plus i got the chance to add to that conversation by talking about my recent trip to Ghana where i met and hung out with lots of cocoa farmers.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

mini protest banner #3

This one is in a small park near Bishopsgate. It says "It's not enough to be compassionate, we must act." I wanted to have it on a park bench somewhere that a diverse group of people use from bankers to homeless drug addicts.

I thought it would be good on a park bench because it might people think about not just sitting and thinking, sympathising or emphathising about people going through injustices and struggles but encourage them to get up from the bench and do something to help their neighbours (local and global) live a better life.

The last two only stayed up for a day before someone took them off. I wonder how long this one will last... :(

Friday, 27 March 2009

Is big better?

On Monday, 24 November 2008 I wrote the blog: have you ever been asked: Do you care?
with this badge but a lot smaller. I thought the original badge was too small. but know i think this badge is too big. grrrr.... just cant get it right. what do you think?

Doves not Swallows

Ahhh, the joys of Shrink Plastic:) I made these dove badges. I see quite a few people with swallow tattoos on their chests or hoodies with them on and I really like the placement of them.

However, I am not quite sure of the meaning behind the swallows. I think it relates back to the Navy. Lots of tattoos and alternative images such as swallows in this placement seem to refer to violence (army, navy, guns, daggers etc) so i wanted to turn that on its head and to doves instead.

Doves represent peace and the colour of white makes me think of innocence and purity too. I get asked sometimes why i have doves and its a great opportunity to talk about peace and actively searching for it (hence the green leaf in their mouths that link to the biblical story of Noah's Ark).

Everything i make whether as public art (cross stitch graffiti, mini banners, hidden letters etc) or to wear (belts, badges, keyrings etc) I want it to make people think and ask questions so we can have interesting discussions about social justice and peace.

So if you see me with my doves on - now held by Gaffer tape on the back:( - I hope you say hello and have a chat with me about how we can aim for peace in the world :) x

Sunday, 22 March 2009

can cupcakes make people act?

I used to regularly make organic and fairtrade cupcakes with messages on social justice issues. I would sell them on a stall at the back of my lovely ex boyfriends gigs and give the money to charities working on trade justice. I would also have petitions for people to sign and free stickers and badges given to me by NGOs for people to have.

Me and my housemate decided to try and make some cakes this weekend to give to our colleagues in our offices on Monday. We are going to put tags or post-its on each one with a little message about the issue the cupcake refers to (climate change or trade), ask them to do something to support fairtrade or 'stop climate chaos' this week in exchange for a tasty chocolate or lemon cupcake:)

I wonder if they will do something or at least think about supporting fairtrade or the climate change issue.

Do you think I'm being too optimistic?

Sunday, 8 March 2009

mini protest banner #2

I tend to steal quotes for my mini banners from postcards I bought from a radical independant bookshop in Liverpool called News From Nowhere (= check it out!). They include quotes from Ghandi, Dali Lama, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa, Swedish proverbs etc. However this mini banner is a quote my mum came up with :)

I told her I wanted to have a mini banner that I could put up in a financial district in London to talk about how this 'depression' should be seen as a great opportunity for banks to think of new ways to make money in an ethical and grassroots way and how their way of trampling on people to make a profit doesnt work!


I put it up on a bar near Bank tube station, London. It stayed up for 2 days before someone took it, leaving only the cable ties there (and this photo) to remind me of its existence

mini protest banner #1

I have been making mini banners on and off for the last few months and they have gradually formed a little pile in my craft suitcase (like Mary Poppin's bag but better!;p). I finally took a day off work last week- I am owed 152 hours off but have too much work to do to take them off- so I put up a few of my banners.

This was my first sneaky guerilla crafting hehe. It says 'Inequality = Conflict'. I made it last month but decided to put it up in Liverpool Street Station, London last week because there has been a bit of an incident there recently: the Police blocked off this a few weeks ago for an advertising agency to film a flashmob for a company. However, soon after that an activist group wanted to do a flashmob there too but the police stopped them= inequality which led to a lot of tension and worries that a small riot might happen.

This banner is close to my heart because I grew up in the fourth most deprived area in the UK which happened to be on the edge of a city centre. The majority of our community grew up in council houses watching expensive luxury apartments being build in the city centre, see flashy sports cars speed down our main road while we had one of the lowest rate of cars per head of the population in the UK. This caused tension and understandably made many of our residents and especially young people angry and therefore wanting to lash out.

It cant be a coincidence that South Africa is the most violent country outside of wartorn countries and also happens to have the biggest gap between rich and poor in the world.

My worry is that we are following South Africa and being more and more violent, angry and torn apart.

2nd Some Craftivists meeting

So we had our 2nd open meeting which we decided to do crafts on the theme of International Women's Day (8th March annually). We made keyrings and badges in the colours of IWDay and used the feminist empowerment symbol seen in the photo provided.

Again, all the material were provided (felt, fabric, fabric paint, stencils, keyrings, badge-backs, shrink plastic, fabric felt tip pens, coloured card, sticky back plastic) and people made really different products.

We all had to put a white tag on our items and write a fact or thought on womens issues in the Global South. Some of us asked people to show people their item and start a conversation on these issues, others asked to think about their global sisters across the UK when they looked at their item.

We offered people in the library cafe an item in exchange for their signature on our petition for the rights of women in Iran. We got lots of smiles, thank you's, people asking what we were doing and wishing us goodluck in our future projects.

We had some old members and so new members. We all had a lovely day crafting but also had really interesting conversations about womens rights, our generations views on women and what we wanted to do next month.

any ideas what we could do next month?

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

search for my alternative valentines cards while they are still there!

One hundred cards will be left around Central London this Valentine’s day. Each contains an alternative valentine’s letter, a handmade gift and a sweet. Hand delivered to gaps in walls, cash machine slots, shop shelves- they won’t be affected by the postal delays and you don’t have to be in a relationship to have one of these!

I did this project in Liverpool last year. This year it’s London’s turn. These are valentine’s cards with a difference: the letter is written from a person from a developing country asking for people to show some ‘real love’ for the unforgotten poorest people in the world. The card includes either a keyring or a badge in the shape of a Loveheart sweet saying ‘Real Love’ and an actual sweet.

There are so many distractions in London, particularly on Valentines Day. Hopefully these cards are a friendly reminder of the difficult circumstances our global neighbours are in and the gifts are there to encourage a conversation to start even after Valentine’s Day.

Where shall I do it next year? -I'm thinking Glasgow. I dont know if I have the energy to do more than 100 next time but maybe I get my 'Some Craftivists' group to help me. We could make millions and post them to people across the world to give the possibilities....

check out the latest press coverage: - you can see where I left all of the cards in Liverpool last year on this article because they have put all of my photos up hehe

This is the letter:

Be My Valentine,

I don’t think you care. Not really.

It’s too easy to ignore me and people like me, isn’t it? There is too much going on: places to go, people to see, things to experience.

My name is Adriana, I am 18 years old and I live in Angola. When I was 12 soldiers attacked my village during the civil war. My family and I fled into the forest. We were separated and I haven’t seen them since. It’s hard living as an orphan. The civil war has ended now but the spread of HIV and the effects of climate change are the next battle that Angola and I have to face.

I don’t go away when you look the other way and I’ll still be here fighting though you might be distracted by many things here in London … I am part of your life, part of your world.

I don’t want your pity. Actions speak louder a box of unfairly-traded chocolates, a love poem or a bunch of roses.

Please show me your love. Take action:

Keep this gift and every time someone asks you about it, promise me you will retell my story and remember the poorest people in the world.

Is my love going to be unrequited? Please don’t ignore me and people like me. We’ll still be here waiting, angrier, ever more determined, and ever more hopeful that you’ll show ‘Real Love’ for your global neighbour through action.

All my love ….

What next? Internet search ‘take action on global poverty’

Saturday, 17 January 2009

I'm addicted!

So it looks like I am getting hooked on doing cross stitch graffiti pieces:

This is my first xstitch graffiti piece I did in Liverpool, UK. I did it at 2am on a night that (on Wood Street), yet again I thought no one would be partying in the city centre: the night after New Years day. But, yet again, there were drunken people and people still ready to party. Scousers are hardcore! ;p

I'm not sure if I like this one and if I would do it again. I did the 'Love smells unless you act' image as well in Liverpool (Roscoe Street) because I like the look of it. I've been criticised for the fact that you cant understand what it says but I still like the look of it and the colours involved (white, red and brown) and, in a way, I think the less obvious the meaning the more people might think and be interested in it. What do you think?

This one obviously means 'put people over profit'. But what I am not sure about this is that the £ isn't central and its all in one colour. I think I'll do it on a smaller grid in London to see what it looks like but I'm not sure I'll do it again and again.

what do you think? please be honest. I luuuuuuvvv constructive critisism. Comments welcome, as always:) x

will i be lonely anymore?

I have recently set up a 'Some Craftivists' group on Facebook (any ideas where else I should post the group?) and have my first proper open meeting on Saturday 24th January 2009 in the British Library Cafe. It's exciting but also really scary! :s

I thought it would be a great way to meet like-minded people and other Craftivists. We can hopefully work together on public art projects to make people think about poverty and social injustice and change the world! ;p I had an invite only preliminary meeting in December 2008 to see if my idea might work. We met 11am-2pm (which is when I hope all meetings will be) to see if that was a good time to meet: to long, too short, too busy, took up too much time in the day, too early, too late. We made some 'mini banners' to cable tie to railings and fences around London. The banners could include any facts or statements to show their passion these craftivists had about global poverty and injustices. I brought a long a suitcase of crafts for people to use for free.

Whilst sewing and cross stitching the mini banners we discussed how these meetings could be as fun and fruitful as possible. We made a manifesto so there is a focus on what we will and won't campaign on, thought of how we would like the meetings to be structured (do we want an agenda. a theme for each monthly meeting, speakers to come in, a project completed each month...), when the meetings will be, how to promote the gruop and how to provide the craft resources.

So the plan is: we will have a meeting every 4rd Saturday of the month at 11am-2pm at the British Library (its central, free and meetings go on there all the time but we need to campaign to make sure they get Fairtrade tea and coffee in their cafe!). People will pay £2 each meeting to pay for the resources (this can change depending on how much the resources cost for each project). However we didnt want to confirm how the meetings would go until we have or first open meeting next Saturday. And that's why I'm pretty nervous and scared of the first proper meeting... :s

What if people disagree with my ideas of having themes or projects we all work on each month?
What if people offer some ideas I dont want to do but the rest of the group do want to do? What if no one turns up? What if people find me and the idea of the group boring? I am a bit of a control freak so this is super scary for me!

Any ideas on how you think these meetings should go? How would you do it?