Thursday, November 28, 2013

Buy Handmade, It's about soul . . .

It's time to talk turkey about handmade. Do you even think about handmade? I hope, as you are heading out into the craziness of  the Thanksgiving weekend shopping, you will give what I am saying here one moments pause. Hopefully, giving just the right gift or possessing clothing, jewelry or art that an individual has thought about, designed, and created has meaning to you. Buying handmade means quality, thought, mindfulness, creativity, and the great joy of making infused into an art object. I think we need to think about the years of study, training, experimentation, mistakes, and remakes that happened before the creator is able to present you with their amazing offerings. By giving a gift with a story, you add value for the giver and receiver.

I am a artist/maker. I am passionate about people understanding how they are spending their money and the value they gain by thinking larger than owning more. Thinking about the quality of what they purchase, how long it will last, and the deep joy it will give them, perhaps for a life time. You may not have as much stuff by buying handmade, but what you do have, will last longer, be well made, and serve our earth by being made locally. As "they" say it is a win win for everyone.One-of-a-kind items or short run items are truly special in this world of mass production.

Actually think about what the chain of events are when you buy at a big box store. The creator of that item works in an office at a cooperate head quarters. Many people approve or disapprove that item. It is tested, rearranged, watered down and homogenized. Then a prototype is made. This prototype then goes to three or four possible manufactures outside of the United States, that boasts cheap labor, to get a bid on making
that product. Possibly the cheapest bid is accepted. More adjustments are made to the product to make it easier to manufacture on an assembly line. The colors of the day are imposed on that product, the cheapest raw materials are used, and it goes to production. Thousands and thousands of that product are made, and put into a shipping container until the container is full.The shipping container is then transported to the docks at that foreign location, where it may be warehoused for months. Then that product makes the journey over the ocean, taking weeks and using a great amount of fuel, to a US port. The container goes to a distribution center, more fuel, operated by the cooperation and distributed to all of their big box stores. Oh, by the way, more fuel. You see this product on an end cap at the big box store, you like the price more that the product, and you buy it. Will you have that product in six months? Will that product be front and center in your life in six months, or will it be riding the bottom of a drawer or  your closet forgotten until cleaning day three years from now, when you through it away or hopefully donate it to a charity. We all need to think about what we spend our hard earned dollars on and who it supports. I am aware parts of the production stream I have described have been left out, are not accurate, and I am US bias. I'm trying to make a point about how far the original design is from the creator of that design.

Support the artisan directly. Your support provides financial freedom, gives the artisan control over their own destiny, gives their life a purpose, and results in their being able to do what they love. Possibly develop a relationship with this person. Know the story of how your purchase traveled directly from the maker to you,
with no middle person. This is, of coarse, supporting small business. If nothing else, that artisan can buy a few more supplies to make their next creation, but at best it helps that business owner pay their mortgage, light bill or buy health insurance. Too many artisans have lived their entire creative lives without health insurance. Your purchase doesn't meet the profit margin a board of directors has set, but supports the creator, the artisan.

Get out to all of the art and craft fairs.Go to galleries. Be the first one of your friends to discover a new designer. And, yes, you can afford it. Think about all of the "things" that you afford; premium cable channels, the newest cell phone, that pair of shoes you just had to have.. Could you really afford them? If you want something enough, somehow you afford it. Talk to the artist, perhaps they will create a payment plan for you to purchase that coveted item that is just out of your budget. I've done this a few times and enjoy that art in my home because of it.

My best holiday season, is one in which I don't ever visit a mall with the loud holiday music, florescent lighting, and the two mile walk to where my car is parked. It will be my wildest hope that I can influence one person to hesitate before buying at the mall. Giving handmade, shows more care or concern for the person you are giving to, and for yourself. You spent time at the art or craft fair, online perusing the handmade offerings, and talking to the maker directly or via e-mail.. You may have asked for adjustments in size or color that tailored the gift to the receiver. In the end the item is precious for your loved one, and a loving act on your part. Isn't it time to rethink, Black Friday? I am grateful today for the makers out there. They are the soul of our culture.