What I learned by doing craft when I got terminal cancer

On woodcarving and psychophysical wellbeing from an insider perspective




Emneord (Nøkkelord):

Treskjæring, Psykofysisk velvære, kreft, taktil kontakt, verdi og mening av håndverk


In this paper I use theory on craft and psychophysical wellbeing to extract insights on the value and meaning I found in woodcarving after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. I continued to carve wood throughout the entire diagnosis and treatment period. I was already an experienced woodcarver and had done extensive research on my own making processes. Both the making and research provided meaning and value for me in my ordeal. I discuss three lessons I learned: 1) Deliberate controlling of attention on the here and now worked as a coping mechanism, giving meaning and value to my situation; 2) Grounding myself in physical touch with a close connection to the material contributed to maintaining my positive identity as both maker and researcher, and acted as another coping resource; and 3) As I made the objects, I re-made myself. My intention to save and finish these artifacts, and the joy I experienced as I finished them, gave meaning and purpose to my situation. These lessons support previous findings on craft and wellbeing, contribute insider insights on the use of wood in art making during cancer treatment, and they could potentially inspire others facing dire straits to use crafting to cope.


Marte Sørebø Gulliksen, Professor i kulturdidaktikk og estetisk praksis, PhD, Høgskolen i Sørøst-Norge

Professor i kulturdidaktikk og estetisk praksis ved Universitetet i Sørøst-Norge


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Hvordan referere

Gulliksen, M. S. (2023). What I learned by doing craft when I got terminal cancer: On woodcarving and psychophysical wellbeing from an insider perspective . FormAkademisk, 16(4). https://doi.org/10.7577/formakademisk.5378

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