How Crafting Played A Significant Role in Families in the Past

Happy young children assisting grandparents in crafting airplane toy

Since this is national craft month, it wouldn’t be fair to not talk about the craft stories heard from families or what I witnessed during childhood. Long before Pinterest and YouTube, the pride, love, and joy of crafting were present in families for years. Even if making things by hand wasn’t your thing, you knew someone who sewed, quilted, knitted, crocheted, or all of the above. Crafting played a critical role in families. It strengthened family bonds, served as an additional income source, and formed generational skillsets. 

beautiful handmade quilt in bright colors

Family Time During Saturday Afternoons

Just like families gathered for card games, birthday parties, holidays, and other special occasions, both older and younger generations came together and did crafts on Saturday afternoons. Some relatives did the same craft type, and some families had relatives who did various crafts. Regardless of similarities and differences, they taught others how to make. Sometimes they shared techniques that helped develop skills. 

The crafting sessions weren’t only about the result. It was a time for families to bond over a shared activity. Conversations ranged from family memories to what’s happening in the current news. Because some families didn’t reside close to each other, the weekly meetups also served as a way to catch up on their week. 

Families sat in either the kitchen, living room, or around the dining room table on Saturday crafternoons to not just make, but they listened to music, watched television, told old stories, and ate. 

Craft Skills Were Supplemental Income

30 or 40 years ago, the closest thing to online shopping was buying through store catalogs, and 2-day shipping didn’t exist. Instead of paying three or four times the price of a piece of clothing, makers did it themselves. Their sewing skills enabled them to sew specialty items, including prom dresses, wedding dresses, graduation outfits, hats, and school uniforms. If a seamstress had children who couldn’t fit into the clothing retail stores offered, they made their kids’ clothing.

I recall a few crafters using the money from made orders to either pay a bill (that they didn’t want to come from the primary income), save for a splurge item, send their college kid money, have as a cushion for special occasions, and the list goes on. 

I also remember about these makers in particular that even though it was a side hustle, they treated it as if it was their day job. Paypal, Zelle, and cash apps weren’t in existence, but there were payment plans with payment dates. If there wasn’t a deposit, the project never started. No final payment meant you didn’t receive the product. On the maker side of things, when they gave customers a completion date, they made every effort to meet the obligation. 

There might not have been any social media or yelp where people could give reviews, but word of mouth was just as strong as it is today, despite the advancement of technology. No matter how good someone’s work was, if the project was late or if people felt they overpaid for poor quality, people turned their attention to other referred crafters who provided better service.

Life happens, and a two-income household can become a single-income household overnight. Things such as a job loss, terminal illness, unexpected medical expenses, death of a loved one, or pregnancy are factors for income reduction.  

Because crafters had specific skills, they could earn additional income instead of working a second or this job to make ends meet. The workplace will only pay so much, no matter the length of employment or how well they perform. The side hustles don’t guarantee riches, but it does build wealth.

generation concept word on a chalkboard background

Build A Generational Skill Set

I rarely meet a fourth or fifth generational crafter in today’s time. Back in the day, older generations passed their skills to younger generations to keep the skills within the family. How often have you come across families with a few excellent cooks, and when they passed, the recipes went with them?

It’s the same way with crafts. 

Granted, not everyone might be interested or have “two left hands” when crafting, but someone can always teach the craft to another relative. The opportunity to make additional income will always be present when someone can make things with their two hands. Not only is it a monetary gain, you learn that crafting has plenty of life skills as well. You’ll learn patience, how to think outside the box, improve problem-solving skills, and gain social skills, to name a few.  

Generational crafting must go beyond passing a single skill. It’s okay to give the talent, but each generation should do more with the craft than the previous generation. Is generational crafting serving as a template or a foundation in families?

What are your thoughts on the article? Please share feedback in the comments below.

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