Book Review:: Handmade Nation

I’ve had Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design on my bookshelf for many years, but I haven’t looked at it in a while. I pulled it the other day, while I was looking for an appropriate book to review for the blog and I am so very happy that I did.

It has brought me back to myself, in a way, because of its origins in the new wave of craft and DIY culture. I am reminded of how I first came upon the craft/DIY movement back in the early days. It is a great accompaniment if you want to take a trip down the memory lane.

It documents the beginnings of many pillars in the craft/DIY community, spanning from 1994 and the inception of Venus Zine, all the way to the first Renegade Handmade Fair in Chicago, IL in 2007. 

I can remember following so many of the shops mentioned in this book in magazines like Venus or Bust, and eventually, being able to find them online or in the Bust Boobtique. Is that still a thing?

After the timeline of craft/DIY history in the book, you will find Handmade Nation’s “Craftifesto”. It reads in part,

The Power is in your hands!

Craft is Powerful We want to show depth & breadth of the crafting world. Anything you want you can probably get from a person in your community.

Craft is Personal To know that something is made by hand, by someone who cares that you like it, makes that object much more enjoyable.

Craft is Political We’re trying to change the world. We want everyone to rethink corporate culture & consumerism.

Craft is Possible Everybody can create something!!!

It was written by Amy Carlton & Cinnamon Cooper, who are also the brains behind the DIY Trunk show in Chicago, IL. You can read the full Craftifesto here. Very inspiring.

Throughout the rest of the book, you are introduced to many crafters from across America and given a glimpse into their studios and a look at their process.

A highlight for me would definitely be the Anti-Factory feature, which is a clothing company that is unfortunately no longer around. She used to make reconstructed tops out of recycled/reclaimed goods. So whimsical and fun!! I always wanted a Anti-Factory top! Maybe one day, I could find one secondhand.

The book is full of fabulous, behind-the-scenes shots of the artists at work. I loved getting to see their work spaces! It gives me something to strive for in my own studio!

I recommend this book, a thousand times over, especially if you are someone who has a history in the craft/DIY movement, but also if you are new to the scene. It is an education. Much loved.


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