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Fiona Hackney, Mary Loveday Edwards and Hannah Maughan

Community Making & Making Communities: crafting non/digital interactions

Fiona Hackney, Mary Loveday Edwards and Hannah Maughan 

Affiliation: Falmouth University

Keywords: co-design, community, stitch

Conference activity: Presentation Fri 11th July, Pop Up Exhibition Trelissick House

Project Summary:

Millions engage in creative handicrafts, activities that are undertaken voluntarily for pleasure and involve high levels of competence and creativity, representing an important area of community assets that is often devalued or dismissed (Hackney, 2013a). This paper draws on research from the AHRC-funded project Co-creating CARE (Community Asset-based Research and Enterprise) which explores how crafts knowledge might be applied through processes of co-design (engaging all stakeholders), co-creation (collaborative work) and co-discovery (by formal and informal researchers).The project works with community groups and partners in Cornwall, Birmingham and Dublin and uses participatory action research methods in digital fabrication, virtual communication, and face-to-face activities and workshops.

CARE initially aimed to explore how craft might work as a bridging activity, bringing disparate groups together to enhance social capital, and a series of short films explored intergenerational skill sharing through creative making (Hackney 2013b). These demonstrated how film can communicate crafts in community settings; the activity also revealed the power relationships embedded in creative exchange, as tensions emerged around, for instance, digital making, suggesting important questions about the future of traditional skills and how these might be productively combined with new technologies (Maughan 2014).

To find out more about collective sharing through making research took what we term a ‘material consequences’ approach, embracing playfulness and risk. Participating groups were asked to collaboratively devise ways to capture and reflect on the ‘small stories’ of collaborative interaction through making. The resulting research ‘texts’: a digital sharing platform, a sewing box of embroidered ethnographies (stitched stories and interactions) and a digital fabrication workshop – embody and materialise a narrative of co-discovery as groups address the value of learning and through sharing and making, digitally and otherwise, and reflect on how this knowledge might be applied in other aspects of their lives.


Maughan, H. (2014) ‘Embroidering Ethnography: Research in Practice’ http://cocreatingcare.wordpress.com/the-project/.

Hackney, F. (2013b) ‘CAREful or CAREless? Collaborative Making and Social Engagement through Craft’ in Engage 33: Special issue on Critical Craft. pp. 24-37 www.engage.org/journal

Hackney, F. (2013a) 2013: ‘Quiet Activism & the new amateur: the power of home and hobby crafts’ Design and Culture May/June 2013. pp. 169-194.

A question that arises from your project: How can crafts enhance community engagement and what is the role of digital technology in this?

Full paper

Loveday-Edwards, M. and Maughan, H., (2014). Community making and Making Communities: Crafting non/digital interactions. In K. Bunnell & J. Marshall (Eds.), All Makers Now: Craft Values in 21st Century Production, International Conference Proceedings, Autonomatic Research Group, Falmouth University, 10/11 July 2014 (pp. 79 – 84). Falmouth University, ISBN 978-0-9544187-9-3