Ok, so today’s post is a bit of a departure from the norm. I’ve branched out from book reviews to zine, art and burp cloth reviews. Confused? Read on..
Confession time: I’ve never read a zine before today. In fact, I’ve never really got that they are a genre in their own right, but a quick look at Wiki puts me right: they are small-circulation self-published magazines (hence the name) which come from the centuries-old tradition of pamphleteering, as circulated by the likes of revolutionaries including Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin, and were a hugely important part of punk and feminist culture from the 1970s onwards. Because they are almost always hand-made and self-published they can be much freer than the mainstream press in the views they champion, and they are strongly associated with grassroots movements for social and political changes.
Anyway, two friendly types with whom I sometimes collaborate at work have both recently published zines, and so I decided to break my zine duck and get stuck in. I started with ‘Thoughts I Have’, a zine about women and their relationship with their bodies. Not all zines are hand-illustrated but this one is, and beautifully so – here’s a sneak peek:
It’s a little booklet to slip in your pocket, and has the same look and feel as the Jolly Postman books I loved as a child. As soon as I read it I thought ‘this is brilliant – such a clever, funny, creative way of creating dialogue and connecting people.’ I could instantly identify with everything the author wrote and loved that someone I knew had made something so good from scratch. I’m now on the hunt for more zines to enjoy. It was £2 very well spent, as not only do I have something interesting and hand-made to enjoy but it’s also inspired me to have a go at zine making myself. It’s a big rough and ready, but here’s my first attempt:
Another thing that made me feel a bit better about the world at large is that by taking part in this small transaction I was actively supporting a woman-run start-up creative business. I often agonise about how to use my disposable income to benefit the communities, places and values that I care about, and I’m always a mixture of pleased and relieved when I can make that choice in a way which offsets some of the guilt and worry I feel about how the rest of the capitalist world seems to exploit the poor and feather the nests of the wealthy. So whenever I’m able to make a choice to support causes I believe in by being an active part of the economy that drives them, I really enjoy doing so. It feels empowering – one in the eye for the giants of industry and commerce. (Who of course have no idea and miss my pennies not one iota. But still…)
So a mere hour or so after I exchanged the filthy lucre for my first zine, I found myself parting with a very reasonable $52 (including shipping from the US) for two beautiful baby gifts for friends who are going to give birth in the coming months. A lovely lady I worked with in a previous job has just set up a new business making burp cloths – as in, to wipe up baby vomit with – and quilts. She trades as Red Fox, Brown Fox and you can see her wonderful wares on Facebook and Instagram. I’m so impressed that she has developed this business following a pretty tough personal situation recently, and I’m really proud that I can support a business like hers. And aren’t they pretty?
So that’s two impressive women doing it for themselves – but three is the magic number, right? So to complete the triad, I’m going to finish with another woman-run creative start-up who I meet up with at the weekend: Paper Narratives. This is a great one-woman-band making hand-cut paper artworks – take a deek at them on Etsy. I am the proud owner of one: isn’t it beautiful? If you fancy checking them out in person, then pop along to the Paper Narratives exhibition at Manchester Royal Exchange this summer.