Even though the DIY movement is starting to garner more attention from scholars abroad, it has yet to receive much attention from Czech scholars. The book DIY: a fine mosaic of self-led making represents an effort to bridge that gap at least in part, and to offer the first comprehensive view of DIY (kutilství in Czech) as an intriguing phenomenon that is practiced extensively and which has a distinct history and vibrant presence. Thus, this book is the first complex attempt at defining what DIY is in the Czech context, and it aims to provide a peek into the multi-faceted and diverse activities which today’s DIYers devote themselves to.
In the book, DIY is understood as encompassing complex self-led manual projects as well as minor work and repairs which are (primarily) carried out in one’s free time. DIY’s predominantly free-time activities differ from traditional domestic (homestead) activities, such as trades or domestic industries, homemade crafts, or folk art products, for several reasons and namely, due to the issue of profit. In this book, the DIY phenomenon is understood by the authors and DIYers alike who engage in DIY projects or have so in the past, as excluding professional and semi-professional handcrafted projects as well as projects that concern profit, sustenance, or those that are sold on the market.
The book is comprised of four in-depth chapters which are thematically focused on various past and present aspects of the Czech DIY scene. Additionally, readers will come across seven short chapters that seek to draw attention to interesting, neglected, or surprising connections to the DIY world. The book also contains several statements – quotes from current DIYers or from various DIY magazines and manuals – and short stories about DIYers or their projects, all with the aim of filling in the gaps of what DIY is and was. The quotes and stories found in the last two chapters come not only from the research forming the foundation of the book, but also are from an exhibit that took place at the Cheb Retro Museum in the fall of 2019; the specific material presented and discussed in the individual chapters comes primarily, although not exclusively, from this exhibit. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the lessons from the book about the Czech DIY world cannot be applied generally. In combination with the short chapters that look at various aspects of the DIY environment, each quote, story, photograph, and sample of DIY work provides a multi-layered picture of the contemporary DIY scene and allows us to begin to map the current understandings of this variable, albeit ubiquitous phenomenon. By uncovering the meaning of things and their stories, the book attempts to better understand not only the people who do DIY work, but also seeks to examine the situational context and society which they live in. Furthermore, it presents the DIY movement as the distinctive and rich expression of everyday human creativity that it embodies.
The book is in Czech with an English summary. A free of charge copy can be ordered via form / e-mail.