A hobby, as defined by Dictionary.com, is “an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.” That definition can cover a lot of ground. Through the years, various hobbies have gained great popularity and faded away, perhaps to be revived later. The biggest surge for crafts in the United States began in the 1950s when folks began having more leisure time. It was peacetime and innovations resulted in more free time.
Perhaps you recall creating some of these crafts, recognized as the fads from these eras:
Paint by Number kits were first introduced in the 1920s but gained great popularity in the ‘50s to the distain of the art community. Great masterpieces reduced to tiny, numbered segments on a canvas with the paintbrush in the hands of a ten year old, oh my! Remember how incredibly sticky the paint was? Every dust particle gravitated to the canvas. On the positive side, these did spark an interest in the arts for many. I’m not sure how relaxing these were to paint; they did require an incredible amount of attention and detail.
The Tie-Dye trend of the ‘60s was, in reality, an attempt to revive the Rit Dye Company. When Will and Eileen Richardson, out of work artists, were given a batch of Rit Dye packages and bolts of fabric, their creativity let loose and tie-dye anything and everything was born. Halston, the American designer, even ordered $5,000 worth of product. Tie-dye clothing has long been associated with Woodstock and the hippie movement. I remember a date showing up at my house wearing a tie-dye t-shirt. I couldn’t get him out of the house fast enough! There would have been no date that night if my dad had gotten a glimpse of that shirt.
According to history, however, tie dying is not a product of the anti-establishment movements of the ‘60s. The art of tie dying dates back centuries to ancient India, Japan and Africa, where silks were dipped in various dyes to create unique, intricate patterns.
In recent years, creating tie-dye t-shirts has regained popularity. Last summer, kids at Camp Hanes created tie-dye shirts during craft activities.
Remember cross-stitch? This, too, dates back to ancient times. Embroidery and needle arts have existed for necessity and decoration all through history. Patterns ranged from simple to complex in the extreme. Cross-stitching was a great way to create a personal gift for a baby or house warming, a Christmas ornament – pretty much anything you could imagine. Definitely a solitary hobby, cross-stitching requires a great deal of attention and following patterns that are not only small, but color coded, which can wreak havoc if you suddenly find yourself on the wrong row (clearly I have experienced this more than once). Magnetic boards, rulers, markers and patience are necessary to get to a finished product.
The ‘70s were the era of macramé – basically glorified knots made into all sorts of things. No home was complete without an owl on the wall or perhaps a planter hung from the ceiling with a spider plant or fern draped down to the floor. My three year old decided to give a Tarzan yell and launch from the piano bench to our planter one afternoon. You know, those planters were really not all that secure in the ceilings (sorry, Denise)!
Bedazzle! Just one word. Anything you could wear – hey, add some jewels and voila – it’s a new creation! How many bedazzled sweatshirts and sweaters are now worn to ugly Christmas sweater parties? Sadly, I recall bedazzling a pair of tennis shoes – don’t ask me why.
Crafting has many forms and a huge audience, with Pinterest as a big contributor. Now we share our craft ideas with the world! Crafts come and go, but many have continued through the decades. Knitting and crocheting remain popular, with social groups formed to share and knit/crochet together. Quilting has regained a strong following again as well.
So, grab a paintbrush, a pair of needles, a thimble and thread (or even a bedazzler if you must) and get crafting!