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The Dark Side of Crafting? Answered

I was recently sent this update from UC Berkeley and Indiana University, and thought I would pass it along.  I have never had a brush with the "Dark Side" of crafting they describe here.  Have you?

Do you sew clothes, print posters, or shop for craft supplies only to realize your craft has negative effects, e.g., on the consumer or society at-large, morally, socially, and/or legally? Do you see a “dark side” to craft? If so, UC Berkeley and Indiana University researchers conducting a research project on handcraft and computing would love to talk to you. We will conduct interviews by instant message, email, phone, or in person within the next few months.

To help us with our research, please email Daniela at daniela@ischool.berkeley.edu, Jeff at jbardzel@indiana.edu, or Shaowen at selu@indiana.edu.

image blatantly stolen from pirateluv which just has so many other cool things on it too.


I think there may also be another dark side to crafting - in that most of the time it encourages an activity which is largely stagnant. By that I mean, a lot of people I know who craft, craft whilst watching tv, sitting still just moving their hands. It is a fairly non-physical activity in which you can spend hours doing without realizing time has gone by. I am not saying that by crafting we are condemning ourselves to not being healthy, but a lot of crafty people, who craft alllll the time, are not. I might be overgeneralizing a bit... but I do wonder if there is a co-relation?

It's true that it's usually a sedentary activity, but you have to think, what would you be doing if you were not crafting? Would you really be out running or biking, or would you be watching TV or playing video games with that time instead?
I think most people would just be doing some other sedentary activity if they were not crafting.
Plus, if you are crafting while watching TV, then you are busy with your hands and less likely to snack.

I'm good with blaming my spare tire on my crafting...yup, that'll work.

Seriously though, I know lots of healthy crafters, I don't think the crafting obsession is the problem for most people. For me personally, I know if I stopped doing crafts, I'd just read or play on the PC or watch TV instead. I wouldn't start jogging if the world ran out of crafty things to do. Probably doesn't help though!

Some call it a spare tire. I call it a naturally expanded workbench. i find a darker side of crafting some facets that are so mind numbingly repetitive that hot pokers start to look appealing. Though for the most part even sedentary crafting keeps one out of jail, um, I mean trouble.

Ah yes, the workbench! Also an excellent plate! Laundry is easier than dishes, no?

I like the repetitive stuff. For me, it's soothing, relaxing...meditative. Unless I'm falling behind on a deadline, then it is the most excruciatingly stressful aggravation.

Crafting can't keep me out of trouble, no sir.

Another dark side could be repetition. But I have found that when I'm out, I guess the fresh air does my brain good and i get more ideas. Also, I love the library. My secret name for it is "The Tower Of Learning". Our central library is 6 stories, 4 of them underground. I peruse Metalcraft and Ornament and sometimes ceramics magazines. The color combinations in the ceramics make my creative juices come bubbling up!!
Anyway, if I wasn't sitting crafting, I'd be sitting reading, watching tv or on the computer. I'm thinking of moving my computer so that I have to use it standing up(eventually).

OMword - yes - the dark side of crafting is the hoarding part... yes it hurts my family in a big way... and the fact that it started with me trying to turn a stim from my son (who has autism)... into something useful as first beading - then clay ad now all sorts of mixed media. Yes - it hurts him sometimes when the beads are too small or if he gets frustrated.... 50/50 dark/not so dark.... depending on how much I am trying to please my son ... not even sure this makes sense,,,, sorry in advance.

Months late, but I just discovered the forums! Yes the dark side is hoarding, I've spent about $3,000 on beads since 2008. I didn't know I was so compulsive!!!! I've switched from shoes and fabrics to beads.! Does anyone want/need beads of any kind, cheap?! :(

Hi,dannylions, regular email wouldn't go thru, so heres a copy;

Hi, Dannlions, what's your pleasure for beads? I have lots of colors, but whites in particular that I probably never will use. These are not huge quantities, but the amounts we usually buy at a bead store, you know, by the string. If still interested I can take photos and quote a price with each photo. Does that sound good?

Yes Marie...read our story on E t s y... In Facebook type Danny lions pieces for autism then once you get to our page click like....then click on e t s y from there.... he loves to bead....I can't keep up with him...I have 130 double / triple necklaces to list.....:)

Hi,, dannilons, just tried again to email you thru Yahoo and it didn't go thru. Is there another email address so i can send photos of beads for sale? I think I may list them on my Etsy page but not today, got errands to run.

Hi, finally found you at Etsy. Your son makes nice things. Would you believe the thing I liked most was the white bead and white pearl necklace/bracelet set?
Tomorrow I will photograph and price and send to you.
PS I'm at etsy too: AzaferraJewelry (one word)

The selling of craft from one person to another I think qualifies as "work under the table" or income that is not taxed. How much impact does it have on our tax system? Baby sitters do not seem to be much of a problem.

I believe one dark side potential is that there are few if any standards of safety or quality. Some crafts can turn dangerous if not correctly performed. I imagine making a children's clothing out of highly flammable material to be somewhat detrimental. Also, anything with lead should never be given to a child and some of the jewelry I've made for my nephews I later found had some lead content. I got it back from them. Toddlers put everything in their mouths. A dark crafter would keep on putting out the product and know despite risks that their is potential for danger.

Thus for me, a dark side of crafting would be knowing something is harmful, but still producing it.

Yeah, I wanted to make things for little kids, till I thought about all the consequences, I mean everything needs to be new in order to be clean, and then the flammable issue. I decided it was more trouble than its worth.

I agree completely!

For me, just walking around a craft supplies store makes me cringe. Little bags of dead seahorses for kitschy bathroom crafts, the amount of energy used to produce all the fake flowers, the chemicals in all the paints and adhesives, the unrecyclable styrofoam...

I get overwhelmed and confused, because I craft to reduce waste and consumption, but then I think about the industry that has risen up to support crafters, and how it isn't really that environmentally friendly. Theoretically, us crafty folk epitomize the best r's: reduce, reuse, and re-purpose, but I know I let my consumerism run rampant in the craft supply store. I know we can't live in a perfect world, but the cold missing eyes of the dead seahorses haunt me at night.

Oh, now I see where the dark side lies. I was thinking only about performing crafty activities, like painting, modelling, scrap booking (etc) and couldn't connect anything negative to those sorts of activities, in and of themselves. I don't see those problems as being anything unique to craft though. Just bad folks.

Here in Canada, we've got a certain amount of freedom from taxes, as long as you don't make much money selling your items, you don't need to report the income (as long as you don't go over certain limits). The government actually has recently been really trying to get on top of the "underground economy"...I'm not sure where I stand on the issue.

I guess buyer beware is always good advice. Especially when things aren't regulated or certified etc.

the closest I've come it an attempt at making a replica of Sheldon's Soft Kitty.....

Dannylions pieces for autism. Sorry there are no spaces in Dannylions

That was a lie.

"welcome to the dark side, are you surprised we lied about the cookies?"

I'm not understanding what the "negative effects, e.g., on the consumer or society at-large, morally, socially, and/or legally" craft could have on a society?

I think a hoarder is gonna hoard, a crafter is gonna craft, eventually the two may meet and feed off each other but...I don't think having a bunch of stuff makes you a "hoarder". Having a couple extra shelving units filled with rubbermaid boxes full of hobby stuff isn't too bad, is it? There are no missing cats (read: dead) or piles of "stuff", I swear.

Anyway, I want cookies!

I realize I was really stretching it. I wonder what what the dark side cookie is like.

"The emperor does not share your optimistic appraisal of the situation"

This little Darth Vader is a MUST HAVE!! This message is reaching you by way of the skills of a dark sider. Of course, a Star Wars fan and a regular role player online as a Sith after turning from the light side. Any time there is a "dark side" it will get my interest at least and influences whatever sewing or other crafts I might do. Even cut and paste card stock "models" or a desktop scene. Darth Maul graces my shelves in my office. I put my Star Trek ship away a few years ago.

Is the little Vader crocheted? No matter what force skills I might have, I still need some direction since something is black it is so hard to see the details. I might have to make one of these for my little sithlings (aka Star Wars fans looking more like my grandsons).

wow, that's what I call love! this must take a while to crochet!

These little things are quite small and take way less time than a full sized sweater or afghan. I used to make a lot of cute little booties that looked like cowboy boots or little Mary Jane shoes. The little things might be more creative to give the right look but there isn't anything that is completely impossible. I'll try this stuff when I get my television out of the shop. Otherwise, there's no reason to just kick back on the sofa with my hands busy while I look at a movie.

I was also quite surprised at how quickly little amigurumis come together. Check out the link I provided to pirateluv and see if there's a patter available!