Kraftwerks – Interviews
For my research project, I interviewed two members of a New Haven crafting group known as Kraftwerks. I interviewed Brittney, the founding member and another member, Tanya. You will also hear a bit from Christian, who is also a member. Members of Kraftwerks get together weekly to work on various craft projects. Their get-togethers are informal, usually organized last-minute through the social networking site Facebook. On Facebook members send group messages and use a group page to post project ideas, articles relating to craft and schedule meetings. The group congregates at members’ apartments where they craft, share materials, ideas and skills. I am interested in this group’s motivations for their weekly meetings and their influences for engaging in crafting. I talked with them about the ways that Kraftwerks differs from the well-known craft group Stitch n’ Bitch and their thoughts on craft, art and feminism. The interviews are broken up into three sections. Part 1 is my interview with Brittney, Part 2 is my interview with Tanya, and Part 3 is a really informal discussion on craft and art. Interviews are slightly edited for duration – and as you will hear, they were recorded while Brittney was cooking dinner.
Brittney and Tanya revealed similar backgrounds in crafting – both were raised in environments where family members (specifically grandparents) had a role in teaching them various crafting techniques. Learning and practicing crafts at an early age instilled a proclivity for DIY activities later in life. They also shared an interest in carrying on their family’s crafting traditions while also experimenting with new techniques as well as applying craft techniques to found objects.
Kraftwerks is quite different from Stitch’n Bitch groups. First, Stitch’n Bitch is far more inclusive; meetings are usually held in public spaces (yarn shop, cafes) and meetings are announced on websites like MeetUp.com and Stitchnbitch.org. Although the members of Kraftwerks are looking to grow their group, their members are friends and acquaintances and specifically crafters that would be comfortable around lewd discussions. Secondly, members of Stitch’n Bitch groups usually knit, crochet or sew whereas Kraftwerks welcomes crafting of all kinds.
After trying to steer the conversation towards the relationship between craft and politics, I gathered that Kraftwerks is an apolitical group. Members are interested in politics and activism, but the group itself is more about the act of crafting and creative production. The groups serves as a place where both Brittney and Tanya can engage in creative activity and fulfill their needs to create/make – a need that they cannot fulfill within their occupations.
These interviews are the beginning in a series of interviews with crafting groups. My process was very informal, and next time I would prepare some specific questions. Earlier this semester I conducted an interview with planned questions, so I wanted to see what would happen if I went into the interviews with a basic plan but without a predetermined series of questions. I like the energy of the interviews and creating a dynamic where the subjects felt free to express their thoughts and ideas. I think blending this method with some specific questions would be more successful and it would make comparing data between groups a lot easier.
My research confirms what we already know about craft: it is a practice that is passed down from generation to generation, it is a practice which allows for creative freedom, it has a therapeutic quality, it is often a communal activity and it is more often practiced by females than males. I would love to find more groups like Kraftwerks and see how similar groups differ from established groups like Stitch’n Bitch and groups associated with institutions (e.g. schools, churches). These interviews serve as an example of how crafting with friends, especially in a private setting that allows for unedited conversations creates stronger relationships between friends – groups like Kraftwerks are the antithesis of our current social media culture.