Thursday 5 January 2012

Old is the new new.

Home of Penelope Durston.
Our very own Board Member, Craft Victoria Shop supplier and dear friend, Penelope Durston gets in on the action as Lindy Percival digs deep to find out why old has become the new new. In this editorial piece, The new age of old, presented by The Age, Percival delves thoughtfully into the historical relevance of the concept ‘Make Do and Mend’, the carbon count of new versus old and the influence of technology in making DIY and craft accessible to all. Pene Durston speaks of the previous lapse in the craft movement and the importance of it's current revolution, "In the '70s, women were told 'don't cook, don't make clothes for your family, go out to get a job'. There's a generation of women whose mothers went back to work ... It was the rise of consumerism, you had more money, so you bought clothes, you didn't make them ... [their children] missed out on learning to do things with their hands, getting their hands dirty." If you’re someone getting their hands dirty, or even someone who wants to, this is a must-read article that presents the positive impact of re-cycling, re-vamping, making your own, doing it yourself and craft in general on society, the environment and the heart.


lyn cole said...

As I was born in the late 50's I was a teen in the seventies. Part of a family that was money poor but rich with skills in sewing, knitting, woodwork, re working old to new, cooking etc. It wasnt anything new or trendy or done for the environment, it was just what we did and I knew nothing different. All my life I have made stuff and after having 4 kids in my 20's and early 30's continued making clothing and food and created 2 home based businesses- one on organic whole food vegetarian cooking and the other as an artist teaching painting and drawing. Now a granny in my 50's I've retired from teaching and now have my studio just for me- working in ceramics mainly, but still painting for my kids new homes, making all our gifts, cooking for the kids in busy times and cooking from our garden. The kids friends are amazed at their knowledge of health and nutrition, my kids are all creative in their own way and cook and make gifts etc. Their friends have expressed envy of their skills. I've never been asset rich but watching the craze of anything old is new and how so many are excited about the cleverness of discovering this I realise how absolutely rich my life has been having this as a big part of my entire life. I'm blessed and hope everyone inherits the knowledge of making from now on.

NessaKnits said...

I love Lyn's comments! Well done Lyn!

Veronica Grow said...

How very ironic and timely Craft Vic that you have a post entitled Old is the New New on exactly the same day that I have opened my school called “Old School The New School for GraphicDesign and Typography”!:) It would therefore be very remiss of me not to put my 5 cents worth into the conversation

My Design School aptly called Old School the New School for Design and Typography ( is yet another example of the downsize and back to basics philosophy Penelope and Linda discuss. At Old School, we do know that there is one “old” thing that will never return again (in my discipline of graphic design). This is the role of the autonomous genius designer, when many of the old time techniques can be completed by clever software and inexpensive “computer slaves”. Despite this, what will always remain is the value of the time required to research a problem and then to hone and art direct a great idea into a remarkable solution. How anyone could ever advocate learning and doing this “fast” is perplexing. Reaching expertise in how to do this is an art form that can take a lifetime. Another thing that is eternal is the value of the hand made mark.

Indeed, as Lyn says in the previous post, DIY crafting is really nothing new and I related affectionately to her anecdote, as I too was a teenager in the late seventies. My mother’s DIY obsession drove me a bit spare back then. But I wish I had listened. She was right.

Penelope Durston and Lyn Percival are so correct when they talk about what is behind today’s trend for DIY and downsizing. We are all feeling stressed and craving the perceived comforts of days gone by. We are also feeling a need to downsize and live more peacefully without the pressure of time constraints.

A few things that I ponder is what appears to me to be the quite superficial nature of so much of the “cute”, which seems to reflect our current day obsession with style over substance. It bothers me that people slavishly copy this style without little interest in its origins. My niece is a good example as she has little interest in what life was really like for her Grandmother yet wears the style.

Another recent thought I had is that we are not actually as skilled as our forebears because we are less patient. For example we want everything fast, so we use big knitting needles! Does anyone do complex faire aisle knitting and cable knitting that follows such intricate mathematical patterns akin to the algorithms required to code a computer today? (As my mother used too and she was not unusual!) I recently had my house renovated, and watching the skill of our trusty old tradesman “Lionel O Toole” when he fulfills simple tasks such as painting is sheer poetry.

I think that today, we want everything too quickly and we are in love with the idea of crafting and making but not actually so good at it as our forbears. We need to remember that to do anything well takes 10,000 hours.

I also like the way that Durston talks about “sharing” being an antidote to the isolation of modern life. What a beautiful antidote is sharing, and if you make something, you always have something to share and discuss.

The role of Technology, namely Web 2.0, digital cameras and I phone have made it easy to share photos and ideas online with more people, which has drastically changed the nature of “sharing”. This technology has also enabled DIY publishing. And just to show you how clever it is, here is an example of a book I published myself which was printed in USA. Thank you Web 2.0 for making this possible, because it is so much easier for me to share my creative output. Cost would have prevented this exercise ten years ago.

thanks Craft Vic for the opportunity to share with you!

Craft Victoria said...

Thanking you all for sharing your crafting stories with us, it was lovely to read them indeed.