Sunday, January 13, 2008

Craftzine blog links

I just found the Craftzine blog, and I'm enjoying the links they post. Some cool recent entries:

Use plastic bottles to create underwater sea creatures

Make edible googly eyes -- I love the creature they show in the picture.

They also linked to a Crafter's Manifesto, an effort by Ulla-Maaria Mutanen to figure out what is driving the popularity of craft. I think she makes some excellent points about how crafting creates a sense of satisfaction, communities of practice, experiences of play, etc. I may just need to print this one out to hang on my studio wall.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Pay It Forward exchange

I've finally decided to participate in the Pay it Forward Exchange.

From Aurora at Foxy Art Studio:
It’s the Pay It Forward Exchange. This exchange---which is going around the net craft blogs right now--- is based on the concept of the movie “Pay it Forward” where acts or deeds of kindness are done without expecting something in return,---just passing the kindness on---with hope that the recipients of the acts of kindness pass on their own act of kindness. Thus starts a "PIF"... which continues on...and on..and on... You all know I’m already a PIF type of person. So here’s how it works. I will make and send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment to this post on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I do not know what that gift will be yet, and it won’t be sent this month, probably not next month, but it will be sent (within 3 months) and that’s a promise! What YOU--the recipient--- have to do in return, then, is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog. To play, you MUST leave me your e-mail address or some way to contact you so I can send you your gift, and your blog URL. thanks!

So the first three people to reply will get a small handmade gift from me (type of gift and time of being sent TBD), but you have to promise to put the same promise on your own blog. Any takers?

Friday, January 4, 2008

On the margins of pop culture

I know that, in many ways, I'm shaped by my culture. I participate in its rituals. I embrace many of the core cultural values. I eat the native foods. But somehow, in the last few years, I've noticed that I live outside of mainstream popular culture -- or at least, on its margins. Every couple of weeks, something happens that reminds me of this fact: My students make some reference I don't understand, or I see the cover of a magazine at the checkout and don't recognize the names being bandied about. Of course, I interact with pop culture, but I do so very selectively, which means that I miss many of the widespread trends.

I've never seen an episode of American Idol, Project Runway, or the Sopranos. Heck, we don't even get cable, which is surely an anomaly in the U.S. at this point, and now I don't even watch regular broadcast TV except through DVDs.

I don't read "women's" magazines (except in waiting rooms, when I've forgotten a book). When I do flip through them, I feel as though I'm reading about a foreign culture -- who are these people who are supposedly famous? Do people really care about the latest fashions? And while we're on the subject of fashion, why do the models all look so unhappy? Is there some rule that fashion models are forbidden to smile? They all look serious, or empty, or angry -- what is the deal? Is it just that they're hungry?

I see relatively few movies. I joke with people when they ask me whether I've seen this or that movie that they should just assume I haven't seen it, since that is the most common answer. I do see movies, but just few of them, and often years after they were in theaters.

I don't follow the gossip news about celebrities, so unless the news hits NPR or the front page of the Washington Post, I'm usually clueless. It seems like many people have a better sense of what is going on in the life of celebrities than I do -- I did hear about what's-her-name's recent teen pregnancy, but I would have totally missed the story about Ellen Degeneres' dog except that it was on the NPR quiz show (and don't ask me the details, because I've already forgotten them).

And so on . . .

So does this make me an alien in my own land? How much of American culture is represented by this mainstream popular culture? Are most people participating in the pop culture, or is that just an over-generalization perpetuated by the media hype?