Friday, January 21, 2011

The Case for Handmade


"That's the thing with handmade items. They still have the person's mark on them, and when you hold them, you feel less alone. This is why everyone who eats a Whopper leaves a little more depressed than they were when they came in. Nobody cooked that burger."  

— Aimee Bender

There is an innate value in something that is handmade.

That someone took the time to plan and create it with their own hands.

Unfortunately the truth is that many things are cheaper to purchase already made than to buy the components and make it yourself from scratch. The cost of the yarn to knit yourself a scarf for example is often more than to buy a premade scarf at the store. Now don't get me wrong, sometimes that is great....I have absolutely no interest in making my own laptop, carpet or light fittings. I am happy and grateful to be able to buy these things from others who obviously have way more expertise and skill in manufacturing them.

But in other cases I think we lose something by not utilizing our own skills and talents. When I think back to my own childhood I realize that certain things I owned were almost exclusively homemade. My toys and those of my brothers were largely made by our Grandmother. She also made quilts and blankets for us, pottery and painted plates and dishes. She was the wife of a farmer and she lived in rural Australia so her creativity was often borne of necessity, but still those things she gave to us some 40 to 50 years ago still are used today by all our families and our children in turn. They have survived and are cared for and continue to bring joy to generations that my grandmother never met.

They are something of a legacy.

So I think about my own children. Whatever they need for their day to day lives can be bought.....clothes, shoes, food etc but do they have the skills to make these things themselves using their own 2 hands?
Just so they know they can. 
Just so those skills aren't lost to this and future generations of our family.
Just so.

We talked about this as the New Year approached and we decided that 2011 was going to be good time to tackle this to some small degree in our family. We are working on a couple of ideas that I will be sharing a little later, but our hope is that we will plant a seed that will grow a legacy....even if it is a little one.

"Good apprentices know that they are in the process of becoming masters and that as responsible artisans they must seek to improve upon the knowledge entrusted to them and go further." 

— William Coperthwaite (A Handmade Life)

1 comment:

  1. I feel the same way. Especially, after buying yarn I had the same thoughts about "the cost" of homemade. However, "the worth" of homemade is invaluable when you look at it in terms of legacy.

    I taught the kids to use the sewing machine this week. And I couldn't help feeling JOY in the fact that they now had a skill in their childhood that I didn't get until I taught myself at age 35.

    I'm with you. We are spending more time working with our hands this year. :) I love having a friend like you.

    p.s. I don't want to have to make my own laptop either. ;)