handmade /// what counts?

recent scrutiny over the definition of handmade has been raised within my online community. what counts? is designing something and outsourcing the labor overseas handmade? is working with a collective of people without getting your hands dirty handmade? is buying wholesale from china and putting the pieces together yourself handmade? aren’t these things sort of like saying “i bought this at ikea and i put it together myself, with my own two hands… therefore it’s handmade!”…

or is handmade better described from the viewpoint of an artisan who has spent years as an apprentice or studying in school, the one who has a workshop full of tools and dirty fingernails. it seems to me, that handmade is a real mindful creation or labor of love that can withstand the tests of time and become the family keepsake.

while i stay at home with my kids (which were most definitely handmade) i try to contribute and have a space that is just mine. i knit and i crochet, i make items for adults, teens and children: i buy the material, i create the pattern, i tweak the design, i create it and i finish it. both of these skills were passed down to me, i learned the basics from my mom and i taught myself the rest. is what i create handmade? i tend to think so, but i’m not raising the sheep or shearing the sheep – i start at the retail level… does it count?

so i guess the interpretation can be an individual one? i can decide what handmade means to me, and a community of artisans can argue about what handmade means to them, and the big boss hosting this eccentric crowd can change the definition of handmade whenever he/she wants as long as it suits the bottom line… and it may or may not include artisans who have nothing to do with the process of creating something tangible.

what do you think?

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One response to “handmade /// what counts?”

  1. Frances antoinette says :

    Food for thought! I am an avid buyer from Etsy to buy handmade presents for my friends and family, but now you make me think twice about what I buy. Now, when I shop I will make it a point to know the details of how the artisan made their product and where the materials are from.

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