What Inspired the Crafting Craze?

Posted by: Lyra Pappin

While most people might look at arts and crafts as “just a hobby”, this creative pastime has become a booming 31 billion dollar industry in the U.S.  With 57% of households engaging in crafting activities, the arts and crafts industry has enjoyed a significant bump since its $23 billion dollar earnings in 2000.


So what has caused this resurgence of interest in the Do-It-Yourself approach?  Despite the traditional and folksy association with crafting, it's actually modern technology that has contributed to its growing popularity.  Many business analysts attribute the growth of the crafting community to the simple programming software that allows people to build their own sites.  The ease of setting up a blog or website has helped millions of crafters satisfy their urge to create, as there are endless avenues to seek inspiration, help, and support.


The ability to connect with other crafters blends into the roots of crafting culture with its welcoming approach to expression and individuality.  Being able to come together and exchange new ideas and approaches breeds interest in this increasingly popular pastime. After all, crafting is an art most truly enjoyed by other crafters and interacting with one another promotes more motivation to try new things and keep crafting.  A self-proclaimed “crafty type” Jeannie Stein, writing for the LA Times, reports that she feels most at home with other crafters, noting that “it was safe to talk about a binding or a photo-transfer technique without worrying that someone would think you were queen of the craft geeks”.


Another possible factor in the growing interest in crafting is the X variable of 9/11.  After the tragedy in the U.S., many people across the world felt a need to return to more traditional, stable times.  A great deal of emphasis was placed on family values and people wanted to be close to one another and feel a connection to their past.  Many crafting trades are comforting to people and can be passed on through families.  Interest in knitting has grown recently, especially amongst young people, who often report learning the craft from grandparents.


In spite of the growing number of crafters and the booming business dollars behind the industry, only 15% of people report selling their crafts for profit.  Most view their homemade pieces as a products of a hobby, not as a potential profession or source of income.  Overwhemly crafters give their creations to family and friends, with 79% reporting that they view their crafts exclusively as gifts.

This tendency toward gifting may see some change in the not so distant future as the internet once again comes into play.  It is now easier than ever for crafters to sell their goods online since the overhead and cost of starting a crafting business is significantly lowered when the boutique is mainly managed online.  The marketing aspect of this can prove difficult for crafters, however, thus explaining the rise of websites that help promote and categorize homemade crafts for sale.


The rise of sales in crafting also produces a higher public profile for crafts themselves.  Suddenly, crafts are back in the news and easily accessible to people who may not have thought about creating a project in years.  This has also spawned the evolution of more and more crafting seminars and retreats, including those such as Portland, Oregon’s six-day event called Art & Soul.  Glenny Demsem-Moir and Cindy O’Leary coordinate the retreat and aim to create a welcoming, non-judgmental atmosphere.  They note that some people are intimidated by the prospect of arts and crafts, as they might not think of themselves as artistic or creative people.  Demsem-Moir dismisses the concept that crafts are about perfection, saying, “"When you're growing up you work to make something perfect and then you don't get an A, so you don't feel like you're an artist because you can't draw that tree." Instead of focusing on what people can’t do, crafting allows you to work with whatever skills you do have and offers a breadth of creative outlets.

Happy crafters report a range of motivations stemming from a sense of personal achievement to a method of relaxation. Christine Glenn of Jadewicks Home Goodness also likes the subversive side of crafting, saying, “I'm contributing to a greater good by giving people a chance to try new things without having to resort to what's being carried in the local retail chains or the mass-produced items currently being imported and sold here”. Not only does crafting give people a chance to express a more personalized approach to goods, it’s also generally much more affordable than comparable alternatives. Sarah Reid from Wallypop Products and Boulevard Designs admits, “I am at heart a big cheapskate. Part of it is living on one income; we just try to cut expenses. So I have a hard time buying things I could make myself. And so I end up challenging myself if there's something that we want.”

No matter what has incited this crafting craze, the positive sides of crafting, both personally and economically, make it one of the best surges in modern times. Whether it’s the pleasure in knowing you have avoided another mass produced item, or contributing to the green movement by recycling materials, or simply feeling proud of your accomplishments, crafts have countless benefits that will hopefully continue to inspire millions more to join the fun!



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Lyra Pappin
Toronto, ON, Canada

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