At craft shows, a maze of booths show off handcrafted original wares. Some things are common from show to show, like polymer clay jewelry, stained-glass window décor, and beaded designs, but it’s not the medium that matters, it’s the artist’s individuality and handiwork. I go into stores and see things mass produced and refuse to buy them because I, or someone at one of these shows, or someone who does not go to these shows, could make them better. I support the handicraft business, though not all of us craft to sell.
I do not pass the things in the store because I could make it cheaper; many times that is not true. At superstores and drugstores, many of the mass produced items are achieved at much lower overhead than my replication at home. I have to purchase equipment, I only make one or two or ten, and it may take years to complete just that many. Equipment and materials are not cheap.
I shop at craft shows. I do not purchase the things at the craft show because I cannot make it myself. It is the appreciation for the creation and the nature of art that I admire. Because equipment and materials are not cheap, neither are the final products. I am happy to buy the work of a crafter.
It is for this appreciation and the satisfaction of a finished product that I work on my handicrafts, and that my fellow crafters do as well. Our commercial world evolved from a society where the hands were the tools of the trade and that everything that existed that was man-made was made from these tools. Manipulation of the elements to achieve our visually aesthetic goal or our utilitarian purpose once was the only way. Today we have machines that make the machines that make our products that we buy in the stores, but I still crawl into the nooks that sell the raw materials harvested by someone’s bare hands, buy it, and take it home to satisfy my bare hands.
Or, I take a walk in the desert, or the orchard, or by the riverbed and I collect the raw materials for myself, I apply ingenuity, and I stand back and admire something only a mother could love. Yes, I admit, some of my crafts are strange, and I wonder who would ever appreciate this “thing” but me? And I notice through the walk at the craft show that I am not the only one with such oddities as results. These people have managed to put a price tag on their work and hold it out for the world to see and criticize, or admire. That I admire.
What is the difference between that vendor and me? I spend my time and money and make things I find useful, or make things I hope others find useful and give them away. Vendors spend their time and money and put the work out with a monetary value on it, and people appreciate the work and pay for it. What is the difference between one who crafts and one who does not? The willingness to take a risk and make the monetary investment, take the time and space to make something. It is not that those who do not craft do not respect the art, they just do not partake in its creation. I know a woman who bought handcrafted furniture, hand painted art, hand forged metal spirals that spin in the wind, and she did so because she appreciated it, yet she did not have a crafting hobby. I admire that, too.
What is a crafting hobby? To craft, you must create something tangible. It can be seen, and felt, and sometimes used. Painting a canvas is a craft, knitting is a craft. Building the furniture for a play house or a dollhouse is crafting. To craft, you start with nearly nothing, pieces, and an idea, and you create it. You can weave baskets, spin yarn, chip at a stone, or cut paper. What are the tools of crafting? Whatever you need to achieve that idea: glue, scissors, paint; fire and solder; a drill and a hammer; a sewing machine and needles.
What is the purpose of crafting? To accomplish the final product. It may save money and thus reach a frugal end, or it may be an expensive habit that is maintained by marketing, or fed like an addiction. In any case, take a new look at someone’s handiwork: your tree’s ornaments, your uncle’s table, your grandmothe’s afghan. Know that its existence is not that someone purchased it, it is instead the result of a process that involved someone’s hands, and let that idea allow new light into your home. Maybe get a stained-glass hanging to scatter that light around a bit, so you can really see and enjoy that idea. The person who made it sure did.
Image courtesy of drp