Hand & Heart

Hand & Heart

Today, we're touching on a topic that means a lot to me both as a crafter and a consumer.  We live in a world where the internet provides us with immediate access to just about anything and everything we need or want.  Many of those things are delivered via free shipping after being mass produced in a factory in another part of the world by people who oftentimes can't afford the product they make.

But I won't go into fair trade and labor rights.

Instead, I'd like to focus on the mass production aspect and how the marketing that businesses produce pushes us to continue to buy things we don't need, really don't want, and sometimes can't even use.  We're sold this idea that what we own somehow defines us and that we become somehow less if we don't have the newest model phone, the car with the most options, or the home with the most square footage.

Leather working

I graduated college in 2008, right when our country, and indeed the world, went through the Great Recession.  Some parts of the country weren't heavily affected ... but mine was.  There aren't a lot of industries in my area that brought money into the region.  Instead, most businesses were retail or recreational, the exact kind of things that most people were forced to cut from their budget when money got tight.

I saw people in their forties and fifties, people who had worked consistently for decades and rose up within their careers to management positions or higher, suddenly begging on the street for any sort of work.

Needless to say, the competition for the few job openings we had was ridiculous.

During that time, I experienced a change in my thinking.  Times were tough, yes, but it wasn't the end of the world.  Instead of buying new, you bought second-hand.  Instead of hiring someone else, you did it yourself.

We had less, but we still smiled, laughed, and had some truly wonderful memories.

Wicker Work, Weaving Baskets

And I think that is what the crafting movement is all about - taking pleasure in the simple things.

Crafting is a deeply personal experience.  When you look at a tapestry made on a hand-loom, you see it in a different perspective than something produced on a machine.  This piece wasn't designed to satisfy projected trends in the market and consumer tastes.  It was crafted by someone who was expressing themselves and their experiences.  The design then comes alive, filled with the narrative of that crafter's perspective.  Each piece is unique.  Each piece adds another layer to their story.  The imperfections of the pieces tell of their struggle while the beauty speaks of their joy.

I love crafting.  The process of making something satisfies this deep, powerful need within my soul.  I do it because I love the satisfaction I feel when, after five fails, I finally get it right.  The more I do, the more I want to learn, the more I want to try.

What can I make today?

Today we have this wonderful blend of old and new.  Technology still marches forward, but more and more people are turning to old methods, traditional skills, and crafting.  It makes me feel proud to be a part of that movement, to know that there are others who value something made by hand.  So the next time you're looking for a gift or perhaps something new for yourself, consider supporting one of the tens of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands, of crafters who are sharing their work with the world.

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