Punk craft rules, OK!

Anarchy, anarchy! Arts and crafts has ditched its wholesome, for-grannies-only image and is sticking two fingers up at the man, who believes that knitting et al is reserved for the WI and sad singletons forced to devote their every waking hour to making hundreds of crocheted cushions for their many, many cats to sit on. After all, when the daughter of The Clash singer Joe Strummer (Jazz Domino Holly, for those not in the know, who’s also the founding member of WI branch The Shoreditch Sisters and has just released her first arts and crafts book) is into quilting, baking, sewing and kitchen gardening, you know that times have really changed.

That said, craft has really always been anti-establishment, an excellent way of escaping the trappings of consumerism and proving yourself to be utterly individual, particularly through the use of textiles and sewing machines, which people have been turning to for decades to make their own clothes. This is perhaps where the biggest change has been seen among the make-do-and-mend community. Not only are people you wouldn’t expect to be crafty now reaching for their scissors and glue, but the materials used have evolved as well. Like the punk rock movement, with arts and crafts today absolutely anything goes!

Take Thrashion Carved Couture as a prime example. Owner Nat and her husband – both avid skateboarding fanatics, who even met and fell in love over a plank of wood and some alloys – take old and broken skateboards (donated by local kids and pro skaters, including number one female skater Lucy Adams) and magically transform them into necklaces, keyrings, brooches, bracelets, dog tags, rings, ear plugs…certainly not something you would have seen in the craft days of yore.

“[Punk craft’s] kind of been underground for a long time,” Nat says. “It’s coming to the forefront now because of the internet. And it’s not just textiles any more. It used to be knitting, crocheting and sewing but now it can be anything, using things you wouldn’t really think of, like plates. Emily Fox, who runs Skull and Cross Buns in Plymouth, makes stamps with punky designs, while The Broken Plate and I Can’t Remember My Grandma’s Name make rings and jewellery with plates.” It’s a fact – once you’ve made a set of recycled¬†bone china knuckledusters¬†there’s no going back to knitting blankets.

Of course, it’s not just companies getting more punk rock with their crafts and slightly more subversive ideas are popping up all over the blogosphere as well. Becky McKeown, who runs Impish DIY, draws, sews and creates using second-hand items, from dresses to scrap material cuffs. “Punk kids have always been crafty, whether it’s graffiti or tearing up their clothes,” she observes. “When you craft, you can destroy something old and make it new. I think that’s a very punk theme – to destroy and create.”

Clearly, whether people are making jewellery out of smashed-up crockery, sticking metal studs on their trainers or getting tattoos to show just how much they love to craft, this new subversive attitude of the pastime is definitely here to stay. Vive la revolution!

What’s the punkiest craft project you’ve ever come up with?

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