Women’s shed: A proposal

I am a craftsperson with over 50 years of experience. In the 1970’s I remember participating in a crafts council initiative to spread the idea of craft, called the craft train. A carriage was simply set up as a basic studio, different craft practitioners travelled to rural towns where the carriage would be put on the siding and local residents were invited to come along listen to the tutors talk about their practice and then get involved in making something.

Watching the news and seeing the devastating impact on local communities and wondering if craft could be used to help heal and become a focus for communities to share and come together.

Men’s sheds are a great example of this. I wondered if a room or community hall could become a meeting place, I’m thinking for women but it may not be gendered. simple benches and tables, tools for Clay, painting, sewing, jewellery. A few mugs an urn.

Craftspeople may have equipment or materials they could donate, there may be local craft practitioners willing to share their skills. A community may band together with a grant to invite someone to demonstrate or run a workshop, using the grant for materials and to pay the craftsperson.

I wonder if ‘women’s sheds’ is a possible craft intervention. My niece Chloe writes about her grandmother’s crafting shed built in the garden when she retired.

I know some councils have clay studios and women come together to sew boomerang bags or volunteer in opportunity shops

Men’s sheds are essential but I do not know if sewing or ceramic groups operate in regional Victoria and elsewhere. I believe Women’s sheds could be useful in communities affected by the recent fires.

Marian Hosking
January 2020

5 thoughts on “Women’s shed: A proposal”

  1. I have often wondered if there is a disparity between provision for hard crafts and soft crafts. Women have traditionally carried out soft crafts within the home and have organised themselves into groups in temporary homes – ie bring everything with them in the morning, take it home in the afternoon. A tedious transport issue. Men’s sheds get funding to have dedicated equipment in place. Why haven’t the ‘soft’ crafters got together to get govt funding?

    1. @Jane Bodnaruk I attend a weekly group which has a textile “soft” craft focus. We use a seniors hall and have a store room off the side of the hall where we keep a collective community stash of wool, threads and fabrics along with sewing machines, tapestry looms, weaving looms and all manner of textile based equipment. Our local council has been very supportive of our use of the space. The group has helped nurture into existence a boomerang bags group and a CWA group plus more. It is a low cost group that engages a diverse group of women from different age groups and cultures. Happy to provide inspiration for similar groups – you can find us on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/806313666068928/
      I’ve often wished for a similar place with tools and equipment similar to those you would find in a men’s shed.
      There is a growing amount of evidence about the healing benefits of craft and craft groups in relation to trauma recovery – thinking of bush fire recovery. Love Marian’s idea. I’d be happy to shed visit to share my craft interest with others in east gippsland – my closest bush fire recovery area.

  2. This is a great proposal you have thought about, the women shed!! It sounds incredible to bring the art-craft under one roof. There can’t be any better way to heal ourselves than following crafts, and arts. Thanks you for this initiate.

  3. As a resident of Kinglake, I was involved in the arts-led recovery after the fire here in 2009. I facilitated many classes in beading and jewellery making and I also attended some for botanical illustration and other arts. I witnessed that it was an immensly important way for people to get together and share their experiences. It was a safe and comforting space for people to talk and grieve together with others who they knew understood. It was such a valuable pathway to recovery for many -and still- in our community. So important.

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