Diana Weymar on “Crafting a Better World”

Diana Weymar never stops stitching. As we spoke on the phone about her upcoming book Crafting a Better World, she was stitching a Miranda July quote from an NPR interview with the author: “Every love story is a hormone story.”

Though Weymar started her Tiny Pricks Project with embroidered versions of former president Donald Trump’s more outrageous statements, these days she’s re-imagined it to include artists and writers. “Part of the Trump era was that he took up so much bandwidth,” she explained. “I had stitched so many things I was in opposition to, so I had to re-frame it.” I later saw that Miranda July piece appear on the Tiny Pricks Project’s Instagram, and felt what so many people feel from Weymar and her work: That I had been a small part of something bigger.

A piece of Diana Weymar's embroidery reading 'Every love story is a hormone story
Via @thetinypricksproject on Instagram

“A Very Stable Genius”

The Tiny Pricks Project had its genesis with Weymar stitching Trump’s 2018 tweet I am a very stable genius into an unfinished piece of her grandmother’s needlework from the ‘60s. Her steady stream of embroidered phrases became a way to process the often upsetting statements she saw on social media.

“There’s a softening emotionally when you stitch something. But, also, what’s the difference between seeing something in a tweet versus seeing it stitched? The most obvious example is ‘Grab ‘em by the pussy.’ It’s one thing to read that in a tweet, but when you stitch it, you actually take in what’s being said.” Embroidering the words is a tender and intimate act, but also establishes a sort of accountability. The bragadocious machismo of Trump’s tweets and recorded remarks sits in contrast to the feminine association with embroidery. But embroidery is also the physical act of pricking into fabric with a needle, something that does have a little bit of vehemence to it. Weymar’s embroidered words subtly amplify the pain behind the statements. “I always think if we had to stitch everything we said, we’d be a lot nicer to each other,” Weymar said.

Individual but Communal

Textile work has the reputation of being the solo act of a submissive, quiet woman. While crafting does have a peaceful solitude to it, Weymar created a community around it. She could have continued simply to make her own textile embroidery pieces, but her next step was to turn it into a public art project.

She invited anyone to send her their textiles or make their own stitch projects. “I wanted people to think ‘you made this, so I could make it too,’” she said. Weymar tried to keep things price-accessible and encourage participants to think about what materials they were using. “Of course, I told people not to send bras and underwear, but they did. And it was awesome! I was happy that some rules got broken. If someone wants to break a rule, they’ll do it and just own it,” Weymar said. “There was one that was a body sock with a burlap sack attached to it with the quote if she wasn’t my daughter, I’d date her on it, this combination of something really feminine with something really rough.” Someone else sent her a hand-sewn necktie in Ivy League colors to represent Trump’s boasting about his education.

A Dinner Party for Slowing Down

The project caught the attention of celebrities and public figures like Jamie Lee Curtis and Gisele Fetterman, who both contributed to Crafting a Better World. Weymar plans to get Crafting a Better World out in September before the 2024 election, because “no matter what happens, things will be tense.” The book is a collection of projects and reflections from activists and artists that responded to the Tiny Pricks Project in some way.

“What I hope the book provides is advice by way of sharing. I looked for a lot of examples, as if you were at a dinner party and got to talk to each person featured.” She’s included everything from a fire ecologist who has a burning practice using indigenous ritual methods to a recipe for “vulva chocolates.” It’s an eclectic mix to make sure it covered a lot of ground while still retaining the lens of social engagement.

“Some people might find it challenging to see how crafting will help anything,” Weymar said. “But it does help us understand narrative.” The brain is ill-equipped to handle the massive amounts of information social media feeds it. Learning to slow down and contextualize what you see and feel is a valuable skill. If something upsets you, don’t just scroll past it. Sit with how terrible it is to say “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the pussy.” Add to this the fact that the person in charge of American nuclear arms said that. Voting, marching, and donating to give shape to one’s own individual power doesn’t make the prick of existential despair go away. Crafting might ease it just a little.

Diana Weymar's embroidery of Donald Trump's words on a white wall
Photo by Yvonne Tnt at Lingua Franca Gallery

A Positive Habit

Weymar encourages beginners inspired by the Tiny Pricks Project to give stitching a shot. “There’s an immediate vulnerability to someone stitching for the first time,” she said. “It’s like getting to see someone watch your favorite movie for the first time.”

At the simplest level, crafting and “craftivism” provide something to do with your hands other than hold your phone. “I hope there are things in the book for people who are not craftivists and that people can realize everything can be a craft,” she explained. Weymar wanted to find ways to “transform anxiety into action during troubled times” with Crafting a Better World. Creating something, whether through writing, visual art, or craft is a way to use your hands to take power into your own hands.

Story by Emma Riva / Photo courtesy of Diana Weymar

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