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Black Female Visibility in the DIY Community

One of the things I love most about DIY crafting is the sense of empowerment it gives me. I don’t have to rely on other people and companies to make things I can easily make myself. This gives me a lot of confidence and a sense of self-sufficiency. This kind of empowerment and creativity is something that everyone can benefit from, and yet there seems to be a stark lack of Black female representation in the online DIY community. As a Black female DIY crafters, I feel as if the DIY community values my white female counterparts more than people such as myself. When I want to take on a new DIY project, the first place I go is YouTube, and more often than not the YouTubers with the most subscribers are white women in their early twenties, while their Black counterparts, who are taking on the same DIY projects, are significantly less recognized by the DIY community. Here is a screenshot of the YouTubers that came up when I searched “DIY” into the YouTube search bar.

youtube screenshot 1This is a screenshot of the very first page of search results YouTube gave me, which means that these projects and channels are the most popular. Clearly, if the thumbnails are any indication, there are no Black DIY-ers on the first page, so I scrolled through the search results until I found one.

youtube screenshot 2

I finally found one Black DIY-er, but I had to scroll all the way to page six, which, to be honest, hardly anyone searching YouTube ever looks that far. But the fact that I could only find one Black DIY-er with just the broad keyword “DIY” in the search bar shows how lacking Black female representation is in the DIY online community. Why are almost all the other channel results are white women or white men? How does this lack of representation affect how we subconsciously view Black creativity?

But first, we should talk about why representation is so important. Olivia Heusinkveld wrote an article titled “Why Does Media Representation Matter?” for the online student magazine the Wake where she expresses the importance of diversity and representation of ethnicities, races, and sexualities in the media. While her argument is geared towards media such as films, it is applicable to every other media outlet such as the DIY crafting community. She says “without representation of all races, genders, sexes, sexualities, body types, etc., there are stories that we are missing. Without equal representation, there are people who are not feeling heard or seen. In a nation and world as diverse and complex as ours, the last thing we want is to lose the stories of a large portion of our people” (Heusinkveld). The same can be said for representation in the DIY community; the lack of diversity in popular crafting channels means that we are missing out on other people’s stories, creativity, and opinions, which for a community that is supposed to be inclusive and all about sharing is a huge problem.

Furthermore, this lack of representation is especially harmful for young people who are just becoming aware of and interacting with popular members of the DIY community. As Rebecca Brand says in her article “‘If she can’t see it, she can’t be it’ Why Media Representation Matters” for the Guardian,

My own professional attention has since shifted to younger viewers. Their developing minds are that little bit more unquestioning about what they see and hear on their screens. Or, of equal import, what they don’t see and hear…What message are we giving those impressionable minds about women? And how might we be cutting the ambitions of little girls short before they’ve even had the chance to develop properly? (Brand).

If a young Black woman were to suddenly immerse herself in the DIY community, she would quickly realize, most likely on a subconscious level, how there is little, if any, Black female presence in this community, which would lead her to believe that in order for her creativity to matter to the masses she would have to be a “pretty” White woman in her early twenties. This subconscious conditioning could impact that young girl for the rest of her life, and she grows up thinking that white women’s ideas, imagination, and creativity matter more than anyone else’s, and she would probably never contribute to the DIY community by, say, uploading videos of her projects on YouTube, sharing pictures of her work on Pinterest, or any other social media outlet because she would think “who cares about my opinion?.”

Diversity is quickly becoming an increasingly important issue to discuss as society becomes more aware and empathetic to the plight of underrepresented groups. Fixing the lack of diversity in the DIY community is not something that will happen overnight; it will take a conscious, collective effort of the DIY community as a whole to work together to solve this problem by first openly discussing the issue of representation in the DIY community. Popular DIY channels and websites should promote and support smaller, less popular crafting channels and websites that are run by people of color. The key to solving the problem of representation is mutual support, understanding, and respect for everyone’s creativity.

 

Works Cited

Huesinkveld, Olivia. “Why Does Media Representation Matter? – The Wake Magazine.” The Wake Magazine. 23 Mar. 2015. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.

Brand, Rebecca. “‘If She Can’t See It, She Can’t Be It’: Why Media Representation Matters.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 12 Nov. 2013. Web. 12 Apr. 2016.

“YouTube Search Results for ‘DIY’ Page One” YouTube, 2016. Screenshot.

“YouTube Search Results for ‘DIY’ Page Six” YouTube, 2016. Screenshot.

 

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Confidence from my Mother

My mother has always been incredibly supportive of my crafting projects, no matter how big or outrageous they may be. I have always been a creative person, especially as a child. Art was my favorite subject in school. From macaroni art and pipe cleaner sculptures, to oil paintings over stretched canvas and mixed media installations; my mother has always been supportive and proud of my creativity. She never hesitates to show off my work where ever she can. Her support has helped me to become more experimental and fearless with my crafting and artwork.

My mother has even helped me sell my crafts to her friend’s kids, which was a huge undertaking for me. I wasn’t sure if my crafting was good enough to warrant people paying for them, but she thought otherwise. The largest order I ever had to fill was for a girl scout troop. They wanted charm bracelets, necklaces, and pins. I remember sitting at my desk slaving over polymer clay blocks, jewelry findings, beads, and elastic cords until I grew calluses on my fingers. I made around twenty of these little creations, and my desk was an absolute mess by the end of it.

Without my mom’s support, I probably never would have had the confidence to sell my crafts or make this blog. I am super thankful to have her.

 

Stocking Up!

This week I went on an adventure to the greatest place on Earth: my local Michael’s craft store! It is located in a shopping center across the street from the Arundel Mills Mall in Hanover, Maryland. Since this is a crafting blog, I figured I may as well tell you all about the place I get most of my craft supplies from.

There isn’t anything special or different about this particular Michael’s but it is the one I am most familiar with, which makes finding the things I need a lot easier.

No matter what I go in there for, I always head to the scrapbooking/sticker aisle. I’m not a huge scrapbooker, but I love looking at all of the stickers. There’s just something so mesmerizing about all of the colorful, three-dimensional, glittery stickers lining the shelves…

Anyway! I usually end up spending at least ten minutes looking at all of the things I do not intend to buy before I actually start looking for the things I drove to the store for. This time I was searching for some sort of texture paste mediums for adding more dimensional interest to my mixed media pieces. I was also looking for stamps and black and white ink pads. I found all of these things pretty quickly. But then I got distracted again by all of the glitter I found in the stamping aisle, so I spent another twenty minutes just drooling over all of the beauty that was before me.

After wandering around for another few minutes, I finally made my way to the register. I was prepared with three different Michael’s coupons and discounts and only spent around $18 for a jar of texture paste, glitter bead gel, a flat wash paint brush of decent quality, and a palette spatula.

What I love about this particular Michael’s is that they accept military discount, even if you aren’t active duty. I’ve noticed a decline in craft stores that still offer military discount over the past few years. Also, the cashiers at my Michael’s are always really sweet and patient with me! The aisles are in a logical order, so even if I hadn’t been there before, I would still be able to find what I need. The store is rarely ever crowded because the shopping center it’s in isn’t very popular. Other than Michael’s, there is a Petsmart, a Staples, and a mattress store. This makes it an excellent place for someone like me who is easily frightened by crowds!

Folk Art’s New Metallic Color Shift Paint

Folk Art has released its much anticipated line of color shifting metallic paints. With duo-chrome, color shifting products becoming a huge trend in the makeup world, it’s easy to see why Folk Art chose to make a product that claims to “create luster with colors that shift in changing light!” according to Plaid’s website (also where I found the above image). I love a good color shifting metallic, so I was excited to read some reviews online. A 2 oz. bottle retails for $4.99.

Jessica over at madincrafts.com reviewed some of the colors that the Color Shift line offers and used them to create metallic color block coasters. Here’s the link to her review, complete with a YouTube video of the application. Her findings were as follows:

  1. The Color Shift paints go on sheer. Multiple coats are needed to achieve and opaque finish.
  2. The brush you use matters. The paints show brush strokes very easily, and it is best to apply the paint with a larger brush that has softer bristles than a traditional crafting flat brush.
  3. Pay attention to the drying time. Most acrylic paints dry in a matter of minutes, which makes layering multiple coats and going back for touch-ups easy. However, the instructions on the bottles of the Color Shift paints states that you should wait at least two hours (!!) for the paint to completely dry before layering on another coat, otherwise the second coat will strip and pick up the first coat and create a “muddled” look, as Jessica states.

So, there’s a bit of a learning curve with this product, which may or may not impact your buying decision.

Now, Jenny over at crafttestdummies.com didn’t seem to have the same issues as Jessica when she tried the Color Shift paints. Overall, Jenny’s review gushed over the “rich, shimmery, iridescence” the paints gave her paper mixed media projects.

After reading these reviews and doing some research, I think I will save my money and forgo Folk Art’s Color Shift paints. The shifting of the colors just isn’t amazing enough to catch my attention.  Now, give me a nice holographic paint, and I will be the first in line to buy it!