Call for Special Issue on Craft Extended to June 1st


Making as method: Reimagining traditional and indigenous notions of “craft” in research practice 

(Expected publication date February 2019)

Guest Editors: Esther Fitzpatrick, University of Auckland, New Zealand and Rosemary Reilly, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada

For eons, human beings, most often women, have gathered together, or worked alone, to tell their stories through crafting, whether it be with thread, fabric scraps, beads, clay, yarn, wood, paper and leather, reeds, or other ordinary materials- the original bricoleurs constructing beauty, meaning, and culture from whatever was at hand, transforming everyday objects. Passed down from one generation to the next as an embodied practice, crafting became a social process for empowerment, action, and expression. But crafts have a deeper significance: the hierarchical classification of art versus craft mirrors longstanding power and status differences based on gender, class, social, and economic structures (Lippard, 2010).

Therefore, crafting is not only a way of embodied knowing, it can also represent covert action when done in a protest / resistance context. Craftivism, i.e. the use of politically engaged crafting methods as a strategy to examine and challenge contemporary issues and policies (Black & Burisch, 2010) has a long tradition. Quilts made by enslaved African women in the antebellum southern United States were a way to secretly pass on outlawed African spirit traditions or encode communications for the Underground Railroad (Fry, 2002). Songs crafted by Japanese women silk and cotton mill workers in 1880s were able to sustain them during strikes for better condition and wages (Kondo, 2009). The NAMES project AIDS quilt documented lives that history might have neglected and concretely illustrated the devastating impact of the disease (Lewis & Fraser, 1996). The arpillera movement in Chile allowed ordinary women to defy a military dictatorship by embroidering their sorrow onto scraps of material as a means of protest and resistance, memorializing the disappeared (Agosín, 1996).

When these craft-making practices are employed in the research process, they can provide a significant way to tap into hidden stories, stories that reside in our bodies and in our pasts, stories that shape our current understandings and positions. In response to increasing globalization, traditional and indigenous craft-making practices are being reimagined as important ways of remembering and reclaiming, of disrupting dominant discourse, and making sense of our worlds (Fitzpatrick & Bell, 2016). Crafting requires us to listen once again to our bodies. It can allow us to tell our stories without the constraints of the written word, and to identify differently with our social context. When combined with research, craftivism can raise consciousness, create wider conversations about social issues, challenge injustice, fashion tools for proactive political protest, and find creative solutions to conflict (Baumstark et al., n.d.).

We imagine “Making as method” could include, but is not limited to: Weaving, patchwork quilts, tapestry, knitting, print making and silk-screening, collage, woodwork, leather work, lead lighting, glass making, arpillera, tapa cloth, crochet, fabric design and batik, carving (walking sticks, totem poles, wood panels) tukutuku panels, jewelry, photography, costume design, song crafting, candles, mosaics, pottery, ceramics, masks, metal work, paper craft, beading, decoupage, basketry, rug and carpet hooking, doll making, puppets and indigenous cloaks. We anticipate there are many creative ways researchers are, in this digital age, reimagining traditional and indigenous notions of ‘craft’ in research. As articulated by Neil Cunningham (2017, para. 7) “We are at a fascinating inflection point, where crafts, old and modern, are intermingling, and opening many new avenues …”. Where craft is in the process of being reimagined in a technological age. Treadaway (2007) describes a “hybrid practice,” where digital techniques are combined with textile craft skills to support and enhance creative practice. However, recognition of the significance of “making” is consistent:

Our hands help us think and physical making provides opportunities for serendipitous and accidental creative insights that the logic and control of the machine can often inhibit. By combining traditional textile handcraft, such as hand embroidery, screen printing and hand painting, digitally printed surfaces can be embellished… (Nimkulrat, Kane & Walton, 2016, p. 30)

We invite manuscripts, performances, and other presentations or representations that depict, explore, and expand the full range of craft’s potential – from embodied knowledge and knowledge construction to political agitation and social justice through methodological, theoretical, performance, and empirical work for the Theoretical Musings and In Action sections of Art/Research International. We also encourage ekphrastic poetic responses to examples of 'craft' in research practice, and different examples of reimagining 'craft' in the digital age for the Reviews section (Fitzpatrick, 2015, Prendergast, 2004, Madison-MacFayden, 2013).

Submissions due by June 1, 2018. Inquiries should be directed to Esther Fitzpatrick at

Please review the Art/Research International submission guidelines and download the journal's formatting guide before making your submission. These can be found on the journal website at:

Please clearly indicate on your title page that you are directing your submission to this special issue. 


Agosín, M. (1996). Tapestries of hope, threads of love: The arpillera movement in Chile 1974-1994. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

Baumstark, M. C., Carpenter, E., Davies, J., Gooderham, T., Greer, B., Harvey, B., Marsh, R., Marvel, M., Miller, A., Nectar, I., Nielsen, A., Poppelin, E., & Varvis, C. (n.d.). Craftivism manifesto 2.0. Retrieved from

Black, A., & Burisch, N. (2010). Craft hard, die free: Radical curatorial strategies for craftivism in unruly contexts. In G. Adamson (Ed.), The craft reader (pp. 609-619). New York: Berg.

Cunningham, N. (2016, January, 23). The reimagining of craft in a technological age.

Fitzpatrick, E. M. (2015). It’s a tricky business performing poetry with the Ghost. In P. O’Connor, & M. Anderson (Eds.), Applied theatre research: Critical departures. (pp. 207-225). Sydney, AU. Methuen Bloomsbury.

Fitzpatrick, E., & Bell, A. (2016). Summoning up the ghost with needle and thread. Departures in Critical Qualitative Research5(2), 1-24. Doi: 10.1525/dcqr.2016.5.2.1.

Fry, G.-M. (2002). Stitched from the soul: Slave quilts from the antebellum South. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.

Kondo, D. (2009). Crafting selves: Power, gender, and discourses of identity in a Japanese workplace. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Lewis, J., & Fraser, M. R. (1996). Patches of grief and rage: Visitor responses to the names project AIDS memorial quilt. Qualitative Sociology19(4), 433-451.

Lippard, L. (2010). Making something from nothing: Toward a definition of women’s “hobby art.” In G. Adamson (Ed.), The craft reader (pp. 483-490). New York: Berg.

Maddison-MacFayden, M. (2013). This white women has journeyed far: Serendipity, counter-stories, hauntings, and ekphrasis as a type of poetic inquiry. Morning Watch Journal of Educational and Social Analysis [Special Edition: Narratives of becoming a researcher], 40(1-2). Retrieved from

Nimkulrat, N., Kane, F. & Walton, K. (2016). Crafting textiles in the digital age. London: Bloomsbury.

Prendergast, M. (2004, July). Ekphrasis and inquiry: Artful writing on arts-based topics in educational research. Paper presented at the meeting of Second International Imagination in Education Research Group Conference, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC. Retrieved from

Treadaway, C. (2007). Digital crafting and crafting the digital. The Design Journal10(2), 35-48. Doi:10.2752/146069207789272668