Tuesday, April 13, 2010

DIY // MMM-L


When you're really into something, a movement built around a set of values, say, that totally jives with you, it can be easy to forget what it's like for people outside that circle. Take DIY. I've been participating in the DIY/craft online community, in one form or another, since late 2006, so that by now, so much of this stuff is second nature to me. And while I'm perfectly aware that the graduate students around me don't share this ethos, sometimes I forget how deeply ingrained my appreciation for DIY has become.

In Anthro class, for example, we spent a lecture discussing how people from other cultures don't always use their personal life stories as subject in daily conversation. Instead, they might bring up a myth like an Indonesian version of the Cinderella story [this one has a cow for a mother ... long story], and through the myth, or through talking about specific objects or animals in their life, obliquely be referring to themselves, their life histories, or their current circumstances. Afterward we had a discussion about how we might do this in our own lives without realizing it [using objects to tell a story about ourselves], which immediately got me thinking about DIY and how this question takes on a whole new level of significance when you think about the objects that you, yourself, have made, and how a handmade object can be revealing about ourselves, our life histories, and the stories or images we choose to present to the world.


And I realized how foreign that idea would probably seem to most people in the room. The very idea of "making" feels really far off the radar. Just like many counterparts in the working world, a number of my classmates gladly make the economic/time tradeoff between buying food and making food, for example, and while I'm not judging that decision because I definitely make that tradeoff as well, just on a lesser scale, I think it also overlooks the "process" part of the equation.

Sure, handmade takes time and may not save much money, depending on what you're doing. From a strict "outcomes" perspective, there's a strong economic incentive to just outsource every aspect of your life and consume your way to fulfilling your needs. On the other hand, the rewards that come from the process - creativity, relaxation, the joy of doing something you believe in, learning new skills, becoming more self-sufficient - really cannot be overlooked. I think our society needs to stop giving short shrift to these 'intangibles'!


When I read about the "Me-Made-May" challenge, I knew I couldn't take on the full-blown challenge ... because I've only ever refashioned one blouse in my life, and there's no way I'd manage another couple in the days we have until May! But I can definitely do a Me-Made-May-Lite and wear one handmade or refashioned item daily [and I'm expanding this to include handmade-by-others, because there are a couple items that I love and want to be able to wear in May]. I kind of already do this, maybe 4 days out of the week? I definitely wear something thrifted or handmade almost daily.

So up there, you're looking at the basis for my wardrobe in May. I'm pretty excited. I don't know that I'll get my act together to make anything else before then, although I'd like to [and this tutorial is awfully tempting ...]. If I do, I'll definitely keep you posted.

Anybody else up for the challenge? A Lite version, in terms of your own choosing?

9 comments:

Ali said...

thoughtful and eloquent post! i totally agree with your thoughts on these "intangibles." i'm also in for the challenge, the lite version. :)

Zonnah said...

I went to the tutorial on the skirt and then looked at some of her other posts and saw the sheet that I am using for my snip.sew.send quilt!
I agree that it is about the process and not always about the end product. I think that is why I like to make as much as I can.

Zoe said...

This is a really awesome post and reflects my thoughts so exactly about out-sourcing compared to becoming more self-sufficient. Only two generations ago (though maybe not for the rich), the very idea of buying prepared meals or getting rid of skirt because it didn't fit well was so alien to our grandparents generation! I really want to take back some of that control and interaction that to many today has been lost, and it sounds like you do too! So pleased to have you on board for the Me-Made-May challenge! Zoe x

Sigrid said...

So nice to read such a insightful post on the DIY concept. I do sometimes feel like such an outlier, it's great to be reminded that we are part of a thriving-- if dispersed-- community. And thanks for the great link.

A. said...

I really like this post. Love the tadpoles in jars peeking out there - and do I spy a vintage sheet skirt? Love it.

Now you've got me thinking. I also often feel a little "weird" when I start thinking about it... how my real-life friends are not bloggy craftsters & really couldn't understand that part of my life... but then I have this whole online community of bloggy craftster friends... just the way the world is becoming, I think...

Stephanie N. said...

Kudos to you for taking on the challenge! It sounds really cool. Thanks for telling us about it. The clothes that you will get to rotate between for your month are such a happy palette!

On a completely unrelated note, do you know why your posts show up truncated in Google Reader and the like? I do most of my blog-reading via a feed-reader program on my phone, and in order to read all but the first few lines of your posts, I have to open them in a web browser, which takes forever on my phone. So I usually don't read all of your posts unless it's a rare day when I'm reading via my laptop. I'm just mentioning in case you don't intentionally have it set up this way, because I think maybe some folks don't know that their posts are set to show up truncated in feed-readers. I was so very much like to be able to read all of your posts via my phone! :-)

jessica said...

Hm ... not too sure Stephanie, but I went and figured out how to change it! I'm guessing that back in the day before anybody actually read this thing, I might have set it to that [before I myself started using a reader and realized how annoying it was to click over to people's blogs to finish out the post]. Thanks for pointing that out!

Stephanie N. said...

Yay, I'm so glad you changed it, Jessica! I just opened a few of your posts in my reader, and sure enough, now they load fully, in all their colorful glory! Thanks!

Melynda said...

I love the blue skirt with the big roses. Do you mind my asking who makes that fabric? I'm looking for something like that for a dress.