Thursday, May 1, 2008


Crafts are a subject, topic, lifestyle, and culture that I love. It is something I am passionate about. Sign language, another culture and community, that greatly interests me. This semester I divulged myself in both culture and found out how similar they both are. One would think that these two worlds could never collide, but how wrong was I.

Both of these communities are extremely hand on, no pun intended, yet the use of one’s hands is immensely important in each culture. For crafters, your hands are your tools; a knitter/crotchetier/sewer’s hands are nimble, quick and precise. A sculpture or a paper crafter’s hands are creators and assemble an imagined idea into a physical object; which is amazing to say the least. While to a deaf person their hands are their mouth, their voice, and their means of communication. They are quick and agile, using their fingers to tell stories, to create pictures with words illustrated by shapes of finger movements. To have the ability to create such great communication without parting lips is exponential and a clear master of skill.

The crafter community clashes with deaf culture quite often and not in a bad way but a conclusively creative and unique means. A few weekends ago while I was vending at a Second Saturday event a gentleman came to my booth to look at my crafts and signed “Sorry I’m Deaf.” To which I immediately began signing with him to the best of my elementary ability. I later seen him knitting while waiting for the bus and at first it shocked me because I figured he needed his hands for communicating but his speed of knitting and looping and crossing was amazing. Several of the women in the Sacramento Craft Mafia, the craft group that I am in, crochet and knit and Ronny, the gentleman I met, could easily knit faster than even the novice knitter of the group, not to put down any of the ladies in the group, but his hand and eye coordination are fine tuned due to his condition and him needing to use them day in and out to convey his messages to others. I was in awe.

The other day I came across an interesting website, at first I thought it was only a crafters website but to my surprise the woman who made the site, Kendra Harness, is a deaf crafter. She has crafts that are related to the ASL (American Sign Language) and Deaf community. Kendra’s site combines both worlds and promotes ASL crafts. Although not all of her crafts are related to ASL my personal favorite aspect of her website would be her “The Hearing Ear Dog” comic series that was published in Deaf USA in the late 80s and early 90s. Check out her wares here.

Another way that crafts collide with ASL is how crafters use sign language in their various crafts. Take for example one of my favorite craft internet sites, Craftster Community, where certain crafters use hand signs in their crafts. Just recently there was a post on the community’s forum where a crafter used cookie cutters in the shape of a hand to make cookies that spell out her daughter’s name in sign and the hand shape for “I love you.” See below.

Lastly, sign language and crafters come together in craft seller’s Indie-Ecommerce sites on There are tons of sign language crafts made my hearing and deaf crafters on this site that can be found by simply searching for “ASL.” Or you can click here.

Overall these cultures do intersect and branches off in immensely and outstanding ways of creativity and innovation. If you do not believe me, just take a look around, it is worth it.

This research blog post was inspired by Prof. Vicar’s ASL 1 class at CSUS. Check out his awesome ASL website Life Print

Etsy ASL Search. Etsy: Your Place to Buy & Sell Handmade. 2008. 20 April 2008

Harness, Kendra ASL Stuff. 2008. 20 April 2008 .

Jsully03. " Fingerspelled ASL cookies” Online posting. 9 March 2008. Craftster Community. 21 April 2008 []

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