Thursday, January 3, 2013

ManCraft - Meet Thomas

A lot of the time, we get the feeling that people think crafting is only for the lady-folk. But no! Not at the Atlanta Institute of Stitches and Crafts. We think crafting is for everyone. In fact, we have an entire department dedicated to men's crafting! The Department of ManCraft is headed up by Thomas Lodato, crafter and maker of neat things.
Our Resident ManCrafter, Thomas Lodato
We sat down with Thomas to ask him a bit more about his plans for all things ManCraft.

What is Mancraft?
Mancraft is simply crafting for men by men. By craft, I don't mean woodworking or welding; there are plenty of acceptable outlets for men to do these. I am more interested in introducing men to various practical and creative aspects of traditional handcrafts like sewing, felting, crocheting, and so on.

Why should men learn to craft?
There is still a huge stigma around both the word 'craft' and the activities handcrafting for men. Several years ago at my brother's wedding, my father's tux had a button fall off. I was the only person able (maybe willing really) to pull out some thread and a needle. Typically, men identify with "This Old House" types of activities: hanging pictures, putting up molding, building treehouses. These are great, and teach people how to be empowered with regards to their lived environment. I love to hack electronics. Again it super empowering to tear a VCR apart and make it play music. But, for many men, despite being willing to rip out floor boards, they are unwilling to fix the rip in their jeans. It isn't all about empowerment, but it is one aspect, and from the practical comes the willingness to be creative.

What kinds of crafting will be covered in ManCraft?
Right now, Mancraft is going to be very practical and focus on clothing maintenance. Most hand sewing comes from a very practical place. For example, embroidery began as a way to reinforce fabrics, then it became more decorative. I want to start at the beginning, teaching why someone would want to hand sew. Later on, I want to do more creative classes. I am tickled by the idea of teaching simple crafts for romantic evenings. Also, as someone who loves to cook, I want to do some Mancrafting classes on food, both practical and aesthetic gastronomy.

Will there be beer?
Hell yes, there'll be beer. I want it to be social. That is the thing I think people, and men especially, miss about crafting: it is really social. I know people tend to imagine crafting is all tediousness, the hours of focus, and hand cramps. After seeing my wife have sewing meet ups where they drink and talk and laugh, I changed my tune. I want to hang out with a bunch of guys, hem some pants, and laugh about YouTube videos over beers.

How did you get into ManCrafting?
I had to take sewing in middle school. I had a choice between a pink pig or a purple octopus pillow; I chose the pig. I still have it. My more recent interest is due to my wife, Sarah. It started as a way for us to hang out while she was sewing.

What are your favorite crafts?
I like to embroider weird things. I have a lamp in my kitchen made from an embroidered plastic milk jug. The light is surprisingly pleasant. I also like to needle felt as a way to keep my sweater collection above water. I consider cooking a craft, at least the way I do it.

So there you have it, ladies and gents! Crafting for men, by men. Awesome.

Visit our Department of ManCraft here.

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