So…tonight on BBC2 begins The Great British Sewing Bee. The bumph says this show is aiming to do for sewing what The Great British Bake Off did for baking, by which I hope and trust they do not mean buying the associated merchandise.
There is a bit of a zeitgeist about these domestic/hobby activities which is, if not entirely anti-capitalist, then at least under the capitalist radar. Sure, you have to buy the raw materials, but the act of making, of becoming skilled, takes away the powerlessness inherent in many transactions. When you can make a good loaf of bread it may still be your choice to buy a loaf; but it becomes choice rather than having to buy it because you have to. And that feeling of having a choice can become addictive (rather as some of our creative participants describe their relationship to making).
I don’t mean this to be a dry political tract. Some more comments from the latest films show that this making thing is very much an emotional choice:
“It’s so good for the soul”
“The actual process of being involved is very rewarding”
But these are very different kinds of rewarding than those which don’t involve getting stuck in yourself. The Sewing Bee is open to amateur needleworkers – the same kind of craftspeople we are looking at and for in this project – those for whom the skills they have have been developed from joy and enjoyment. It will be interesting to see how this all develops.