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September 25, 2007 | by  | in Features Music | [ssba]

Craftwerk: Stitching up the Hipsters

Craftwerk and A Low Hum up a tree, K.I.S.S.I.N.G! Salient reporter Sophie Barclay caught up with the modest and marvellous Craftwerk organiser Heather Barnesface, to talk crocheting, Black Power, and teaming up with A Low Hum.

Craftwerk is the brainchild of organiser Heather Barnesface. Heather decided two years ago to organise a craft fair at Katipo café, calling it Bitch Craft. “We just had 12 members…and I didn’t think that it would actually go very well; I just expected that the vendors would swap shit around and no one else would come and have a look. But, it actually got packed out and there was a line right down the stairs and out onto Willis St and no one could move.” The vendors replied to posters, or were friends of Heather’s, enticed by her pleas, “I was like ‘fucking make stuff, dick’.”
Bitch Craft continued, and in July 2006 Heather changed the name to Craftwerk, and held the event in the Paramount Theatre. “That was my favourite one. It was just too small and no one could move, which was kinda cool (laughs), cause it was like WOW! Look at all the people!”

Recently Craftwerk has linked up with Blink (Ian Jorgensen), who under the banner ‘A Low Hum’ is taking smaller, independent bands around New Zealand. The two are teaming up for a five city tour; Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. How did this amazing amalgamation occur? Heather had been a fan of Blink, who had “always been someone I look up to, with what he was doing (with the music scene)”, for a while before they officially met, “I was kinda like a fan girl for ages, and collected all his zines”. When she knitted him an A0 size poster for one of his gigs, he got talking to her and ended up sponsoring Craftwerk. The idea of Craftwerk and A Low Hum combining was an idea both of them had independent of each other. “I was like “Hey, I’ve got this really craaazy idea” and he was like “Oh yeah, actually I was thinking the same thing” (laughs).”

Heather has separated herself from the Auckland and Christchurch Craftwerks, handing the organisation on to crafters from each city. She met the Auckland organiser at a party, clad in a bunny suit, “It was this art party, and my friend was like ‘Can you just come in the bunny suit and be art!’.” She met Matt Crawley (from the Cosby’s) “and he looked at me in my bunny suit and was like ‘Do you like craft?’… (it was) the first thing he said to me, which was really weird.” He introduced Heather to his girlfriend Sam, and she offered to take on the Auckland version. Sam has recently moved to the UK where she plans to organise a similar craft event.

However, Heather still organises Dunedin and Hamilton from Wellington, which, she confesses, can be “a little shambolic”. Recently, on the Hamilton leg of the tour, the venue had no lighting, and no tables “and we (the vendors) were all on coffee tables and broken sofas!” Hamilton proved to be a town full of antics, with Will from Thought Creature’s cellphone getting stolen after the gig “by two little shit kids!” Will rang his phone and the two kids answered, demanding 50 dollars! “And so he met up with the two kids next to the van, but there was like 16 other people in the touring party, and we all waited behind the wall and then jumped out when the kids came! And they were like ‘Oh nah, Black Power’s got it!’” The tour party waited with one of the kids until the other returned “and he came back and gave the phone to Will…and Will put it in his pocket… And the kid was like “where’s the money? Black Power, Black Power! Black Power is gonna get me!” …and Blink was telling them to leave the gang and they were just like, “Oh. It’s hard though. It’s harder than it sounds!’”

Hopefully, the Wellington Craftwerk will proceed a little more smoothly… Next Saturday (the 29th) Craftwerk will be held at the Wellesley church hall from 5pm to 9pm with music from Little Pictures, who Heather describes as electro folk. “They’re kinda the favourites of the tour.” Other bands include Seth and Merle, featuring the acid test, “kinda like folk-y… oh it’s just real beautiful,” and Kitten et Me (Kirsten from Peneloping’s new project). Wellington Craftwerk tends to be more focused on the music aspect, says Heather, whereas Auckland usually has only one quiet band playing as background music, and Christchurch is more market-y and usually held in a community hall.

So, aside from the music, what cunning crafts can one expect at Craftwerk? New to Craftwerk are reusable menstrual pads, scout scarves and woggles (leather things around scout scarves to keep it on and plaited) made from polka dot material. You can also expect clothes, zines, mixtapes and “plenty of cupcakes, like always”. This year, Wellington’s Craftwerk faces a new challenge, a bar-less venue! However with ample crates of Foxton Fizz “we’ll all get hyped up from sugar instead!”

Craftwerk also has professional crafters who stock stores, but you can buy their wares for a damn sight cheaper. Surprisingly, a lot of the crafters are new to crafting, and are “just giving it a go to see if people will have it, cause that’s the good thing, you can get feedback straight away!” Heather has a stall at Craftwerk, selling crotched ducks, bunny rabbits, tapes, and female genitalia, which are reputedly “one of the biggest sellers on the tour”.

Heather is an amazing crafter, and her home boasts several items that she has made herself, including a cuddly toy bear with a full set of crotched internal organs, and a knitted poster for one of A Low Hum’s gigs. However, when faced with compliments she is modest. “I only know one crochet stitch and I don’t even know how to crochet properly.” (A complete load of rubbish, she is amazing!)

With Heather busy at school (studying graphic design) there is only a slight chance of another Craftwerk before Christmas, so head down to Wellesley Church Hall in Taranaki St on Saturday from 5pm.


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