Renewing old crafts – felting


Training for traditional skills and values, by instigating the creative practices among the younger population, thus encouraging self-employment and economic growth through tourism
Aim of the project
The Project’s primary aim is to implement an approach that foregrounds creativity and self-initiated activities as the basis for personal and social economic growth, whilst raising awareness among the younger population about the prospects of self-employment through a sustainable development of one’s creative capacity. Henceforth, the Project aims at developing the said population’s creative skills by encouraging an active solution of existential problems. On the other hand, the Project serves a wider social cause – to safeguard the old crafts and traditional values for posterity. Protecting the traditional crafts, in and of itself, rests on the understanding that a culture’s spiritual legacy is as important as its material wealth when safeguarding identity and identity formation. Henceforth, the Project focuses on an active safekeeping practices when dealing with traditional processes, and not on the products themselves. In turn, such an approach allows for the creation of products in accordance with the traditional methods, whilst implementing contemporary design and applicability.
The Project’s description
If we no longer aim at helping creativity but rather putting creativity to economic and social use, then this Project encompasses a series of activities that involve sizable practical training. The traditional craft known as ‘felting’ (it refers to the material used for traditional dress and other usable objects with most of the ethnicities living on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia, particularly the Macedonian one) is one of those dying crafts. The Project thus proposes the revitalization of said craft through several phrases.
Phase One: Training (focus is placed on the production method used when crafting woolen objects). The process would be documented through visual media; the skills would be presented through the prospect of organizing a sales’ exhibit.
Phase Two: Implementation (i.e., knowledge/s in a local context). This phrase focuses on opening up traditional manufacturing workshops that would then center on developing good practices as a way into self-employment, particularly in the old parts of urban areas as well as the rural sites in the Republic of Macedonia.
Phase Three: Presentation (turning the aforementioned manufacturing shops into tourist attractions, with a singular goal in mind – the development of tourist practices).
The Project as of now oversees the realization of Phase One. Through its long-term activities, it aims at activating the passive, i.e., mountainous rural regions as well as the old urban downtown areas.
The training phase focuses on the practical aspect of acquiring the skills needed for the felting craft, including the methodology that goes with traditional wool production, thus affording all of the Project’s participants the prospect of becoming future trainers. This in turn would be furthered in scope by the filmed video materials (including a CD documenting the process), including the launching of a web-page that would popularize this traditional craft. The exhibit would serve a dual purpose: to foreground the learnt skills for the general public and to show how the financial benefit of this type of activity is in fact a possibility. The funds collected would be redistributed to various charities.
Project Conveners: Professor Loreta Georgievska-Jakovleva, PhD (coordinator); Dafinka Balabanova, MA (trainer); Lira Grabul, MA (trainer).

The Project has been financed by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Macedonia.