Manchester Craftivism in action: changing the world one stitch at a time

23 Jan Manchester Craftivism in action: changing the world one stitch at a time

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Around November 2010 a lovely guy called Duncan from Manchester who was a graphic design student contacted the Craftivist Collective and asked if he could set up a collective in Manchester. He was clear in saying that he had never cross-stitched before and didn’t know much about climate change but he was passionate about setting up a craftivism session in Manchester and wanted to invite people to make our Mini Protest Banners on the theme of climate change. Sarah Corbett our Founder emailed Duncan lots of resources for the mini protest banner session on the environment and they had a good chat about how climate change was a human rights because it is the poorest people in the world with the least carbon emissions per head of the population being affected the most by the affects of climate change. They met in Liverpool for the first time on Wednesday 1st December at the Liverpool Bluecoat Bed-In project the Craftivist Collective where involved in and there, Duncan learnt how to make his first mini protest banner. Duncan, being the graphic designer he is made his own Mini Protest Banner kit envelopes and flyers but stuck to our manifesto and content of our kits. The first session went well and well enough that he set up a second session for his group Craftivism Manchester at Nexus Art cafe in the hip Northern Quarter of the city.

This time the theme was LOVE FASHION HATE SWEATSHOPS. The event provided Duncan’s coloured recycled card craft packs to create mini protest banners.  (We love the protest banner shown above with its creator, talented craftivist Rebecca).

There was a comfortable turn out with Manchester’s nimble-fingered craftsters putting their needle skills to political play. The the group were cross-stitching messages of gentle protest against sweatshop exploitation in light of the January sales mayhem. These cross-stitched banners will soon be assertively claiming their space: hanging on lamp-posts, patchwork leafing urban trees and fabric lettering post-boxes. The group really liked the fact that this type of cross-stitch craftivism provides a refreshing take on indie craft as unlike ‘yarn bombing’ we are able to visually represent our political message through the form of stitched text.

A lively discussion was held at the end of the session about buying ethically and fairly and where people could purchase fairly traded clothes. The truth of the matter is to buy less, hunt and magpie eye through second-hand and charity shops, or to make yourself (- attending their workshops if you live in Manchester will hopefully give you those sewing skills!). High street chain-stores often use fair-trade labels as a front to tempt quasi ecologically-minded shoppers with their ‘green’ logos, yet behind their fair-trade front is child labour and sweat-shop abuse which is still taking place today, even in Manchester. Rebecca one of the attendees writes: “It is now time to take up our sewing armaments and arm ourselves against consumerist exploitation.”

‘Craftivism Manchester’ will take place every 3rd Tuesday of the month sometimes working on Craftivist Collective projects like the Mini Protest Banners, other times working on their own craftivism projects at Nexus. Next month they shall be delightfully embroidering and making tote bags similar to what our Bangor group did here. Political theme still to be confirmed. Send any ideas for slogans or themes you may have to the Facebook group or post them in a comment below, and we’ll make sure they get through to Duncan in time for next month :)

Finally, here are some suggestions Craftivism Manchester suggest for slogans on the topic of sweatshops to inspire you to create your own craftivism masterpieces-

There’s no place like fair-trade. Fair-Trade not Slave-Trade!

Sweatshop workers – the real fashion victims.

Pay sweatshop workers a living wage!

Shop fair-trade, make a difference.

Shop locally & think ethically!

Sweatshop labour- is it worth the price.

Cheaper clothes cause sweatshop woes.

You look prettier in a fair-trade dress xx

You can’t wash the sweatshop out of your clothes.

Only companies who treat their workers well deserve your £

Think: whose hands made your clothes?

What price fashion?

Think of the labour behind the label.

Trust me, you look terrible in sweatshop shirts.

Ethical clothing, fashionable, moral, sexy xx

The clothes are cheap because the worker got nothing.

How many suffered to bring you those cheap shoes?

Globalisation: hurting those who made the shirt on your back.

Unethical clothes – make you look cheap.

£3 per t-shirt – but how much goes to the worker?

Manchester, built on sweatshop labour, let’s break the chain

How much was the dressmaker paid for that?

Manchester 1800’s – oppressed clothing workers – 2000’s Bangladesh

Manchester home of exploited clothing workers since 1800

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