Guest Blog: It’s a Handmade Nation by Marie Rounsavell (win your own copy)!

Marie Rounsavell shares her review of the new book Handmade Nation: the Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design by Faythe Levine and Courtney Heimerl today on the Guest Blog.

Read Marie’s review and then leave a comment on this post for your chance to win your very own copy of the book! I’ll pick one random commenter to win on October 17th at 12 noon.ย 

***EDITED – Congrats to Carrie from Iowa who won a copy of this book. Thanks to all who left comments!

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by guest contributor Marie Rounsavell

Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design
2008, Faythe Levine and Cortney Heimerl

The history and progress of Handmade Nation is familiar to many of us in the indie community. In 2003, Faythe Levine brought her crafts to Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago. She felt the energy of the participants, dove into the community, and was compelled to begin the process of recording it in 2006. Two years, 15 cities, and 80 interviews later, Faythe is putting those of us who have only met in virtual spaces face to face, albeit in a movie theater. Finally.

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Well not quite finally. The movie still hasn’t been released yet and we’ll all just have to wait (sigh) until 2009. We’ve been baited with youtube releases and most recently the stop-animation opening credits, but for those hungering for more, the book has made its way to shelves near you.Hooray! Faythe Levine and Courtney Heimerl’s book is finally out!

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But you probably already know that too. The book companion to Handmade Nation has been as eagerly anticipated as Handmade Nation the documentary. Not only are the crafty blogs abuzz, but mainstream print media such as the New York Times, who touted Faythe as the Ambassador of Handmade, have taken notice and by doing so have added a certain mainstream credibility to (or at least familiarity with) the gist of the handmade movement.

But those who would take that attention to mean that the handmade movement is a trend would be wrong.

Reading the first person narratives of the 24 artists, designers and crafters included in Handmade Nation is to read 24 plot lines that reach almost the same conclusions. Credibility isn’t the goal; more often sanity is the goal. These 24 stories show the individual paths that the movers and shakers in the craft community have followed. Most mention learning their craft from someone they love. Many stress the importance of learning and passing on the ability to make things for one’s self. With a couple of exceptions, you get a general sense first of frustration with life/job/art and then of relief that there was some craft to which the path returns. It’s inspiring and familiar.

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The additional contributors Garth Johnson (extremecraft.com), Callie Janoff (churchofcraft.org), Betsy Greer (craftivism.com) Susan Beal (susanstars.com), and Andrew Wagner (craftcouncil.org) highlight the importance of this comfort zone in the context of the crafting community. They paint an overall picture of how the handmade movement functions, where it exists, how it came to be, and where it fits in the greater art vs. craft debate.

If you don’t already know what the heck is going on in the indie craft world, this is a great place to start. If you are already hip to it, the pages of Handmade Nation: the Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design is a great place to hang out and drool while you wait for the documentary to come out.

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Sublime Stitching Handmade Nation embroidery pattern with art from artist Kate Bingaman Burt is available for sale here. It’s only $4.50 and a portion of the proceeds goes towards supporting the documentary.

About the Contributor: Marie Rounsavell writes the blog Marimello. Marimello is a new space to highlight offbeat crafting, discuss the how and why of craftingโ€™s resurgence, and help crafters promote themselves as the original greenies in a big box store world that is getting greener (so they say anyway).ย 

70 comments

  1. an old girl scout leader and admirer of the Foxfire books loves the beauty and independence of homemade.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this review ~ it’s made me want to go out and buy a copy of Handmade Nation.

  3. Hats (handmade of course) off to this long overdue book! Wishing much success and happiness to all involved.

  4. I am so excited about both this book and the film! It’s exciting to see craft being examined in a more serious way, rather than just the fluffy “Crafting is sooo cool!” approach.

    ~Sarah

  5. I’ve read how some believe the current crafting movement to be akin to a revolutionary political movement. It would be interesting to see how/if the book covers that subject.

  6. i have been looking forawrd to this book and film for some time now.
    from what i can see so far, i think ms Levine should be congratulated for producing such a wonderful insight into the DIY community.

  7. I’m really looking forward to both the book and the movie. I’ve only recently become interested in the handmade movement, and feel an immense draw towards making crafty things myself.

  8. It’s great to see some fruit from this project. I’ve been waiting to see what would come from it and can’t wait to read the book. Then I can chew my nails for a while in anticipation of the film. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I am so, so, SO excited for the book and movie. I read the website every week, and it is a constant source of inspiration. I think the book would be, also. I am also hoping to circulate a copy between my family and friends to grow their appreciation of all that is handmade.

    Thank you for doing this giveaway (and the review only made me antsier).

  10. I am so glad I found this site today! I sure hope I win the book because I just love making everything possible by hand. I love all kinds of crafts!~!

  11. This book sounds really cool. I started getting into DIY around 1995, about a year after Martha Stewart Living, the magazine, launched. Martha was indeed my first inspiration on DIY projects for the home. After that, I became inspired by folks like Jill Bliss, formerly of San Francisco. I was impressed by young people who were able to take their talents and make it into a full-time business and expression of their artistry. Looking forward to the film!

  12. If I don’t win this book I am definitely picking up a copy. It sounds so great. Thanks for this contest!!

  13. I was so excited to read this review because I’ve been anxiously waiting for my reserved copy of the book to arrive at my local library and it’s finally there today!

  14. I am very much looking forward to reading this book. For a couple years now I’ve been looking to get my hands on everything craftivism I can, and it’s always excellent to have a new addition.

  15. This review was spot on. I happened across the book this weekend and fell in love with it. Hafta wait til payday to get one, but I sure will add it to my crafty library.

  16. I am constantly inspired by the handmade ethos in the States. It is totally incapulated by Handmade Nation. I am also really looking forward to the book and movie release. Hopefully it will inspire more crafters around the world.

  17. Great review, I’m so adding this book to my growing wish list of books! I also would love to see the moview (and I sooo want to see the movie 1000 art journals too) but I don’t know if it will be availible online to buy? I hope so!

  18. As one of the main planners for Minneapolis’ No Coast Craft-o-Rama, I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the book. I’m so excited for the whole project! Thank you

  19. There is such a rich history of people creating with their hands the world over in order to support themselves and their families. Can’t wait to read this modern outlook on the DIY movement.

  20. So excited to see this book in person!
    I recently saw the 20 minute preview to the film and am so inspired.

  21. It looks *awesome*. I love how it’s not just an essay but actually incorporates the creativity of the handmade nation itself. So very cool.

  22. Can’t wait for the film to come out. Would love to see it at a Festival – seems so appropriate. If I don’t win the book it’s definitely going on my Christmas list!

  23. I cannot wait to read the book and see the movie. The DIY movement is like Generation X’s own (albeit much more quiet and subtle than the baby-boomers) protest movement. We are changing the world one craft at a time!

  24. Anticipating both the book and the movie – how great is that??
    Being able read/see some talented craftspeople is an inspiration to all of us aspiring to do as well!

  25. This sounds like a great book – I’d heard there was a doc coming out, but didn’t know there was a book, too. I love reading about others’ ups & downs – great to have a craft reference book with stories of folks who are doin it for themselves.

  26. I am so looking forward to the film and the book. I hope they help to inspire the creativity in many women and men who have yet to try or appreciate craft.

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