In March, it’s the end of winter and a great time to blossom outward into National Crafting Month to show what you’ve been making by hand during the short, cold days of the season past.
Admittedly, the word “crafting” covers a whole lot of territory. At one time, the word “craft” was synonymous with “trade,” meaning skilled labor in a particular area, such as weaving, engine repair, carpentry, etc. It was not uncommon for guilds to be founded based upon a shared set of skills in these and other areas of production. But in current times we’ve come to understand that “crafting” refers to those skills practiced more creatively and with a vision unique to each artisan. Some examples are knitting and crocheting, scrapbooking, leatherworking, wood burning, fly tying, jewelry making, anything created by hand that has an artistic aspect to it but is not strictly “fine art.”
So this month, if you’ve been too busy to focus on your favorite craft, set aside some time and energy and see what you can come up with. You may even want to devote a number of hours to dabbling in a craft other than your favorite.
History of National Crafting Month
There is no question that healthy people’s lives include creative outlets, a way to express themselves constructively so there’s less danger of anxiety and stress “speaking” from within, in negative ways. That was a big part of the reason the Craft & Hobby Association (now the Association for Creative Industries [AFCI]) established National Crafting Month back in 1994. The awareness-raising was meant to help individuals discover their hidden creativity and introduce Americans to outlets they hadn’t tried before, ranging from embroidery to candle-making to any number of other crafts. Over the years since, National Crafting Month has also come to signify a time for practiced crafters to start on a new project, try a new medium, or learn a skill they’ve always been curious about.
Today, crafting is not only a worthwhile, relaxing pursuit for anyone and everyone, but it also has become big business. For example, the AFCI sponsors a yearly mega-convention for companies that fall under the heading, “creative industries.” It’s an event where the leaders in crafting domestically and worldwide trade knowledge, experience and economic strategies. The good news for a typical at-home crafter? In this case, the “trickle-down” theory really works well, spreading the word about new tricks of the trade, cutting-edge materials, and more.
So if you find your fingers itching to be busy, and your heart yearning to make gift-worthy items that combine art and trade skill, join us in celebrating National Crafting Month!
National Crafting Month timeline
Expanding the “fabric” of reality
Inventor Richard Roberts builds the first successful “Roberts Loom,” a machine that makes fast mass production of cloth a reality.
Switching muskets for needle and thread
Formed from scraps of uniforms and clothing, the very first iteration of the American Flag is sewn for our brand-new country by soldiers of the American Revolution.
- 1000 B.C.
A “stitch in time”
Ancient peoples use knitting tools to make some of the first socks worn by humans, their implements to be unearthed by archaeologists three thousand years later.
- 4000 B.C.
A case of either, “ore”
Ancient peoples on the Indian continent begin to practice Dhokra, a metal-casting technique that is still in use today.
National Crafting Month FAQs
Is there a National Craft Day?
It’s impossible to do all of your crafting in a single day, which is why we celebrate National Crafting Month every March.
What is the National Month of March?
March is home to a large array of springtime holidays, check them out here.
What’s the difference between crafting and fine art?
The way we see it, fine art is more unstructured and open-ended, expressing an abstract idea or a feeling or set of feelings. In basic terms, it deals with intangibles. Crafting, on the other hand, revolves around the creation of a useful object or item through eye-hand coordination and technique.
HOW TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL CRAFTING MONTH
Try a new creative medium
If you’re a painter, try scrapbooking. If you're a knitter, try sculpting. The beauty of crafting is that there are endless possibilities for creating, and for stepping outside your creative comfort zone. This could lead to some amazing innovation on your part — you never know if you don't try!
Show off your work
Everything's better when it’s shared with those you care about. Use National Craft Month as a reason to show everyone what you’ve been working on. Whether it’s showing in a small arts and crafts exhibition, giving your creations as gifts, or traveling to a craft fair, be sure to take this opportunity to share your art with the world. Get some eyes on your work, be proud, and of course keep crafting!
Dare to be colorful
Old-schoolers may be familiar with the phrase, “a monochrome life.” It means a drab, repetitive day-to-day existence, but it can be taken a little more literally, too. Your crafting up to this point may show a distinct preference for one or two favorite colors. During National Crafting Month, branch out into the brights, the neons, or even the blackest of the blacks. Broadening your repertoire is never a bad thing.
FIVE AMAZING FACTS ABOUT THE CRAFT OF SCRIMSHAW
“Thar she blows!”
Scrimshaw, the craft of meticulous line carving on the surface of bone or ivory (with the impression filled in with pigment for visibility), was originally done by seamen on whaling vessels, who not only did not want to waste any part of the whale (including the baleen) but also needed a way to pass the time on extended sea voyages.
Your dentist’s second career?
Modern-day scrimshaw artists use tools that are finer and offer better control than the traditional sailors’ needles, many of said tools being borrowed from the broad inventory of dental drills and picks.
“Do I get a certificate of authenticity?”
As you can imagine, 20th-century laws protecting whales and another old-time popular source of scrimshaw ivory, elephants, force much of the craft’s existing samples into the realm of contraband.
A fragile medium
Since ivory teeth are prone to drying out, scrimshander Gary Kiracofe of Nantucket has long advised collectors to fill a dry tooth’s hollow part with baby oil and let it sit to absorb into the microscopic pores, from the inside.
Take a very close look
Today’s scrimshanders often use technology that makes their pieces more easily mass-produced, going against the philosophy of many purist crafters who feel that a scrimshaw piece’s uniqueness is one of its main draws.
WHY WE LOVE NATIONAL CRAFTING MONTH
It boosts creativity and inspiration
Having the freedom to create without boundaries stimulates both the imagination and the spirit. We may even gain the confidence to think outside the box in other realms of our lives, such as education, profession, even relationships. And who knows, channeling those creative energies into one of your hobbies could even turn into a side career!
Crafting brings people together
Whether it’s creating something with your kids or throwing a casual crafting dinner party, sharing one’s imagination and creativity with others is a key reason why humans create. Not only is there another person or people there to appreciate your work, but you can spend quality time with friends and help each other with fun shared ideas.
Handmade gifts are best
There are few things that show how much you care, as much as a gift from the heart and hands. Home-crafted gifts are one of a kind — nothing tells your friend or relative how much they mean to you more than receiving something that you only made one of. On top of all that, homemade gifts are fun to make and can save you a few bucks!
National Crafting Month dates