I first saw a flyer for the new craft magazine Mollie Makes when I was teaching at the Stitch and Craft show earlier this year. At last, I thought, a contemporary multi-disciplinary craft magazine that I might be able to write for. As a writer and craft tutor I’ve been looking for new outlets for my work since completing the Craft Guerrilla book and my novel. Following the well-worn advice to research your market I duly signed up for the three issues for £1 offer on Mollie Makes.
Oh Mollie, I really wanted to love you, I did. I was excited about your arrival – the first issue arrived around the time of my birthday and I eagerly ripped open the wrapping to sample the deliciousness inside. Bright, bold, graphical colours and layout and… twee. And vintage – or rather “vintage” (the vintage which is actually reproduction modern, gussied up as vintage, commercialised and packaged up for the mainstream). And then some more twee.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not averse to the odd bit of twee but there was just so much of it. All in one place. Page after page of it. I had twee overload and it made me a little sick (too much sweet-twee will do that to you). And it made me angry.
I apologise. I don’t like to bitch online as I don’t think it’s seemly. Also, I don’t like to bitch about the crafting community which I love and support. But this has been confusing me. Mollie, why did you make me angry?
When Issue 2 arrived although I was more hesitant with the unwrapping I, being the eternal optimist, was hopeful. Oh Mollie… still twee, still pushing the mainstream vintage… and yet… I liked some of the tutorials. Some of them inspired me into making fabric garlands and fabric covered cardboard swallows to decorate the hall for my sister’s wedding reception. But I still felt disappointed. I’d had such high hopes for you and me. I didn’t understand why it wasn’t working.
And so, issue 3 arrived yesterday – just as I was drafting this post. Mollie, maybe it’s ok, maybe we can work through this? I took off your wrapping and plunged in. Page 9: ‘Living and Loving The Latest In the World Of Handmade’ boldly proclaims the headline… above a picture advertisting jewellery from Monsoon. What’s handmade about that? I carried on through the pages.
Craft and sewing products laid out in a way that is reminiscent of style magazines: Buy me, buy me, consume, consume. Yes, later, pages for creating were interspersed in the call to buy – cute projects too, nicely laid out and well written. But it wasn’t enough for me. Oh look, another picture of a girl with skeletally thin legs and the ubiquitous turned-in toe of twee holding a cushion and standing on a pile of glitter. Enough already. I understand now.
Mollie, it’s not you, it’s me. I’m not your target audience. I don’t read mainstream magazines at all, no newspapers, style magazines – free or otherwise, and as a result when I do read them I find all the advertising and product pushing obtrusive, rude even. The same thing happens when I watch commercial television – I get angry with the adverts (which is partly why I don’t have a television). I hate being viewed purely as a “consumer” and I have a personal bugbear about what I see as “craft consumerism” or “craft fetishism” that I see emerging everywhere (which I will put into my pipe and smoke it over in another post on another day) – let alone my distress at the mainstream’s adoption and bastardisation of vintage (yet another future post).
Mollie, you are perfect for many readers. You are pretty and cute, you have some nice projects and I bet if you were a girl you would wear really cute t-bar shoes with your toes turned in and I probably would have had a girl-crush on you a decade ago. Keep doing what you’re doing as lots of people will love it. I’m just sorry it didn’t work out between us.
But for me, my needs are met by hand illustrated and office photocopier printed craftzines that are a bit rough around the edges. Or the lovely volunteer produced and sustainably circulated digital ukhandmade magazine. I’ve also brought both issues of the new digital toffee magazine from Australia – and not had the anger reaction which I had to you Mollie dear (although I am on twee-alert for toffemag too). Mostly however I get my craft information and inspiration from the many craft blogs I subscribe to.
I like to read interviews about how to grow my craft business using tried and tested business methods, not about someone whose sewing machine and knitting needles all have names. I want to find inspiring ideas for developing my craft practice and articles which treat me as the modern multi-skilled business woman which I am, rather than a cute likkle girle-gril with my toes turned in. Just because I like to craft and wear vintage dresses and high heels doesn’t mean I don’t know how to file my own tax return and do my accounts.
Mollie, forgive me. I wanted it to work out between us but you and me just weren’t meant to be. I’ll still admire your good looks from afar and remember the feel of your matt pages in my hands but I need reading material that meets the needs of the makers not the consumers.
So I’ll wish you well and say adieu, Mollie.