11 Jul Craftivism for kids @AlsoFestival – Mini Bunting messages
I get asked a lot if we do craftivism workshops and projects for children. We focus on creating craftivism projects for adults to engage with global citizenship and what we can do differently to help not harm the world. However, over the years we have had children come with their parents to our workshops such as our series of workshops with the V&A & get a lot out of it too often staying for hours quietly taking part. I recently helped World Aims create a craftivism project for schools across the UK to take part in campaigning against sweatshops which has gone down well with pupils so far. Soooo…. when we were asked to do a children’s workshop at Also Festival this year as well as our adults workshop I took the leap and created a project specifically for children aged 6+. The theme of the festival was SPEED which was a perfect theme for us to ask the children to take part in our SLOW craft session.
Our Kids Craftivism project:
- Reason for making: Make mini bunting on ribbon with a message on to provoke yourself and others to think about how we can be our best selves using our talents, passions and action for good that doesn’t harm people or planet. For example, can we buy clothes and food that pay people enough to buy their own food to live off and not harm the planet. Can we smile more, look out for our friends and family & stand up for people being bullied in school & tell our teachers about it?
- What to do with your bunting: you can wear it as a necklace, belt, headband to start a conversation or hang it at home, in your school locker if you have one or somewhere else.
- Importance of the words: we want your words to link to how we can be good people & encourage others to make this world more awesome too! We don’t want to preach at people but we do want people to think about their actions and behaviours and whether we can improve on them.
Examples of messages
1. “Help not harm” is a great reminder to think about the actions we take and if they at all harm other people. For the kids we talked about making sure the people who bought our clothes were treated well whilst they made them such as getting enough money to live in a home and with food. Not working too many hours with no breaks like in school where we have breaks to play.
2. “Empathise more” I thought ’empathise’ would be a good word for children to learn. For the older children and young people I could ask them to put themselves in other people’s shoes whilst stitching on their bunting triangles. In this busy world we live in often often easy for all of us (regardless of age) to do everything fast and on auto-pilot without thinking about the consequences of our actions. Shouldn’t we always try to be more intentional in the way we live and challenge ourselves to see if there is anything we can do better to support vulnerable people not harm them through what we buy, how we act etc? If we make time to empathise with others, we can be more loving towards them.
3. “Small acts = BIG change” . It can feel overwhelming & depressing when watching lots of bad news on TV or in our newspapers. Sometimes we don’t have any power to change things like fires but often we do. If we all changed small habits to live more ethically, challenge discrimination and prejudices when we see them then big change can truly happen and has. Small acts are often what leads to longterm change, not 1 big act of heroism. American Civil Rights movement included people boycotting segregated buses for a whole year to change the law. I thought that with the children we could discuss how small acts of recycling helps us improve our world.
4. “Service not #selfie”. The trend of photographing ourselves to share with others often on social media. Young people especially young girls are often caught up in this trend and there are reports that say it can cause narcissism, mental health, addition & even suicidal thought. The World Health Organisation says that wellbeing is 1. Realising our potential (not comparing ourselves to others) 2. Coping with daily stresses & 3. Contributing productively to society. It’s not just the absence of illness and part 3 focuses on service. It’s tempting to put short term happiness before longterm (like when I dream of buying another Freitag bag when I don’t need it!) so thought this bunting might gently & lovingly challenge the children their parents & friends (& me!) to think about how serving others also helps their own wellbeing more than taking #selfies.
5. “Solidarity” is defined as by the Oxford Dictionary as “unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.” We often teach children & ourselves that to help others we need to fundraising & give money or give clothes & other items. This isn’t the only answer to improving the world and it could be harmful if we see that the only way to help others is to give money or other items which can fuel the thought that we need to help people because they can’t help themselves. It’s a real worry of mine when people give money but don’t want to thing about how our lifestyles or actions could actually be part of the problem of some injustices such as avoiding tax, climate change effecting the poorest people in the world and our role within the sweatshop-filled fashion industry. We didn’t stop apartheid in South Africa by only fundraising. Most systemic injustices are changed when we change our understanding, our habits, our consumer choices, our priorities and we work together in unity, using our different talents and skills, in respect and with dignity. I thought this would be a great word for the kids to learn and also use their “pester-power” for good.
The activity itself:
Resources needed (and in our production line above)
- We had clear cups full of different patterned pre-cut fabric triangles (each triangle was 2 pieces of fabric stuck together with Bondaweb to make the fabric stiffer and less likely to fray) all hopeful and pretty colours and including patterns with unicorns on!
- 5mm thick ribbon (red, purple, green, yellow) cut into approx 50cm each
- Embroidery needles (size 5)
- embroidery thread (separated into 3 strands)
- ziplock bags (to put their bunting in if they don’t finish it in the session
- Fabric pens
Instructions : Because we had over 40 young people at our event (!) we ended up asking them to all make mini bunting with the word ‘Solidarity’ so they could learn what the word meant & chat to each other about it. One said to their parent who came to check on them “it means working together”!
- All the children lined up patiently, where given their zip-lock bag and told to pick 10 triangles for their word Solidarity & a piece of ribbon. They could pick the patterns they wanted. It was fun to watch how thoughtful they were on what triangles they wanted. Some wanted all the same colour, some wanted alternate colours and others wanted a big mix.
- They then went to one area of the tent where Craftivist Mary sat with them and gave them a fabric pen to write the letters of S-O-L-I-D-A-R-I-T-Y on their triangles nice and neat. We asked them to do the letters in lowercase so it wasn’t shouty and preachy or aggressive.
- They then put their triangles back in their ziplock bags & sat with Craftivist Anna & me to sew their triangles on to their ribbon using a running stitch that looks like this – – – – – – – –
- I helped them cut their thread the length of their arm from fingers to shouulder, separate their thread into 2 groups of 3 strands, thread their needle & put a little knot on one end.
The results: a group of lovely children who didn’t rush, were very careful with their needle and scissors, discussed where they would put their mini bunting (some in their gardens, in their bedrooms to remember to “work together with others to be kind”, in their school lockers) and throughout the festival it was lovely to see children wearing their bunting proudly as a belt, necklace or headband. We even saw some parents of children wearing their child’s craftivism piece and telling me that it got them thinking about what solidarity is too.
You can join in our craftivism projects wherever you are in the world, on your own or in a groups. We sell craftivism kits on our Etsy shop amongst other items if you want to make one for yourself or encourage a group of your friends to make theirs together. Our book ‘A Little Book of Craftivism’ is also full of tips, advice and projects to help you in your craftivism. Craftivist Collective is a social enterprise that relies on your support. If you enjoyed this blog post, please comment, share or visit our shop