Crafting Arts Team

Knitted scarf...

Knitted scarf...

Ceramic Birdhouse...

Ceramic Birdhouse...

Felted Baby Booties...

Felted Baby Booties...

From knitted scarves to ceramic birdhouses to felted baby booties, Americans are getting more and more hands on.  


According to a 2011 Craft & Hobby Association report, more than half of U.S. households take part in at least one crafting activity, whether it’s canning, sewing baby booties from scraps of felt, hewing cutting boards from slabs of maple, or fashioning coffee mugs from clay. Americans spend more than $29 billion a year on crafting—a figure that has remained pretty stable in spite of the wobbly economy.   People are creating personalized things rather than going out and spending money on the same items. When life is crazy, it’s good to take time to do something that relaxes.

Crafts became a pastime rather than a necessity in the U.S. after the industrial revolution, when most people no longer needed to make everything they used in their daily lives. The movement, called studio craft, crystallized after the manufacturing boom that powered World War II. GIs returning from the front lines began tinkering in their free time, and colleges started offering courses in ceramics, glass, and metal art. Then, in the 1960s, “hippie” culture embraced crafts like macramé, pottery making, and weaving. Interest waned with the rise of big-box stores, but it has surged again in recent years as people have sought to slow down the pace of modern life.

Craft making is on a pendulum,” says Garth Johnson, associate professor of art at California’s College of the Redwoods. “Recently there’s been an impulse to push back against everything being slick and computer-designed, to connect with other people, and to learn skills passed down from other generations. So much of what we do in our daily lives doesn’t result in a concrete, finished product."

What we know about the people who came before us we have learned by studying what they made with their hands. We have learned how man learned by digging up objects of their creation hundreds of thousands of years ago. Crafts link us not just to our grandparents, from whom we learn and pass along their skills, but to the first people who walked the earth.

And, crafting isn’t just good for the soul; it’s also good for the body and mind, according to researchers at the University of Florida’s Center for Arts in Medicine. Through nurse observations, they found that patients who participated in hospital arts and crafts programs—drawing, painting, woodworking—required significantly less pain medication, were visibly more relaxed, and reported less discomfort.

Some crafters, like Amy Michalek of Rockford, Ill., find they have such a knack for making things that they’re turning their pastime into a living. The burgeoning popularity of Etsy, the online craft marketplace, tells the tale of the trend toward small-batch artisan goods: When the Brooklyn-based site launched in 2005, it attracted 23,000 sellers; this year, it hit 1 million, and Etsy’s sellers will rake in more than $1 billion. Michalek, 29, started Seams2u, an Etsy shop that sells accessories for baby boys, after her sister asked her to make neckties for her twin 6-month-olds. Michalek, who had been job hunting, became so successful that she abandoned her search for a teaching position to run the business full time. Eventually she taught her husband, Tim, how to sew, and he left his job to join her.  “A lot of people are looking to do work that is more meaningful,” says Matt Stinchcomb, Etsy’s vice president for values and impact. “If your job is sitting at a computer all day, you want to produce something. We have people longing to produce things that are more an expression of their humanity.”

Maine Crafts are very important to Maine's culture. Perhaps our long winters lend themselves to sitting by the fire and enjoying creating things with our hands.  Opportunities to learn crafts are not limited to classes and workshops in our Maine towns.  Pinterest and YouTube provide opportunities to learn from people all over the world.  The REM Crafting Klatch was born out of a group of local people who love Pinterest and crafting.


Maine Craft Organizations:

There are several strong organizations who support Maine Crafts.

  • Maine Crafts Association

    • Vision:  The Maine Crafts Association acts to strengthen individual craft artists, Maine communities, local economies, and the visitor experience by making Maine a national crafts destination.

    • Mission:  The Maine Crafts Association supports craft artists by providing educational, marketing and retail opportunities.

  • Crafts in MaineA comprehensive guide to crafts and craft resources in the state of Maine

    • The purpose of Crafts in Maine is to provide a central source for the promotion of Maine crafts and craftspeople. Maine craftspeople are well known for the creation of fine crafts, both decorative and functional. In an effort to make these crafts more accessible to the public we have provided a group of listings of the who, what and where of Maine crafts.

  • The Maine Crafts Guild

    • The Maine Crafts Guild is dedicated to excellence in craft. We promote understanding and appreciation for quality craftsmanship as an art form and a way of life to the people of Maine and our many visitors. We represent the finest Maine artisans, providing high quality promotional and marketing opportunities for our professional members through our web presence, our highly regarded craft shows, and our outreach programs.

  • Designing Women

    • Our mission is to showcase high quality arts and crafts by women artisans and benefit local, nonprofit services that support women and their families.

  • Maine Fiberarts

    • Maine Fiberarts is a statewide arts nonprofit formed to support Maine fiber and to foster its special work in basketry, beadwork, clothing design, crochet, embroidery, felting, knitting, lacework, needlework, paper, quilting, rugs, sewing, spinning, surface design, and weaving.

REM Craft Team

In 2015 the REM will be convening all the crafters we can find as part of the Arts Forum...a gathering of artists.  The agenda will include time to identify crafters, their crafts and their ideas as to what the needs are for area crafters.  The program will also include a brainstorming as to how all of the eight arts teams could work together to bring attention to the rich diversity of the arts in our community.  We will be developing a collaborative event that brings the myriad of skills together creating an art tapestry which demonstrates the power of collaboration and creative synergy.

If you would be interested in helping convene an arts forum, attending an arts forum or being part of the birthing of crafting projects and groups you are invited to call REM at 873-4444.

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