Sunday, 13 May 2012

What does handmade mean to you?

It's a question that often crops up in the forums of my selling venues and often becomes heated!

The answers are usually (in my opinion) based on the responder's own experience. Taken to one extreme there could be an out-and-out individualist who grows her own sheep, shears, spins, designs and knits, packs and ships completely alone.

And then there are those who say even factory-made items are handmade - because there are hands there somewhere, pressing levers or taking part in a production line.

I'm at neither extreme but I'd like to show you a little of what handmade means to me.

I certainly don't grow my own wool, in fact I mostly use acrylic as it is hard-wearing and comes in the bright colours I prefer:

We moved a month ago, that's why the yarns are quite tidy! The bag at top right holds bits of fleece I use for hair and other embellishments, the big wooden box holds all my fancy yarns. 

My patterns are my own, and are rarely written out in much detail which means each meerkat may differ slightly. I think this adds to the nature of "handmade", and have argued fiercely on the forums with those who hold the opinion that this is proof that handmade is "not perfect".

 You can see some of my essentials here - modeling wire, jeweller's pliers and cutters and of course a comfy chair! Did you guess what I was knitting?

What else do I do? I print my signature labels on the computer, though I have to confess MrNifty's computer skills were used to design the original sheet  - but using my photo and text. I sew a label on to each meerkat (except the very tiny ones), usually on their little bottom.

I also designed and print Certificates of Authenticity to go with each meerkat, using my product photos which...who'd have thought?...are taken by me with the aid of lovely photoshop elements which I can't recommend highly enough.

Finally each kat is wrapped in tissue paper and popped in a padded envelope for his or her journey to a new home. Sometimes MrNifty does the post office run for me.

So - is my work handmade? YES! 

Watch this space - I'll be blogging a giveaway and a free shipping discount code early next week.


HowAboutNo? said...

Handmade to me means a really well made, personalised item that is uniquely made by a spirited individual...

I like to own something that only a few people have and I enjoy supporting crafters...

Christals Creations said...

Tee hee. I have seen some of those debates.
I think I am with you somewhere in the middle I don't polish my own stones to make jewellery or grow my own sheep before I knit. But I do put the pieces together myself. I knit the article, create the bracelet or sew the material that makes the cushion.
I'm afraid that I wouldn't consider pushing buttons on a machine handmaking something though.

Heather Leavers said...

Without the support of people like you Ms Unusual Biscuit, we wouldn't be able to keep going, so thank you!

Christals - me neither. But I bet you've seen people arguing that position, as I have. And they do (sort of) have a point, in that those people need the money too - but it ain't handmade in my opinion if it's been churned out by a factory or (dare I say) BIG "collective".

Sue Doran said...

It's a difficult question isn't it? I do an Art & Craft craft market every Saturday. Our advdertising byline is "We make what we sell". There are 4-5 other jewellers there. One of the girls buys pendants, puts them on chains, undercuts my prices and I understand she usually does very well out of it. When I have a poor week (which is virtually every week this year since Christmas), I find it very hard not to resent that when I make my own beads, combine them with others and make unique pieces.

Heather Leavers said...

Oh I can understand that frustration Sue! Of course that type of necklace is no longer "folksy legal" but is "etsy legal". Confusing. I used to be in "competition" with grannies selling copyright Jean Greenhowe and Alan Dart designs, for less than the price of the yarn - so I don't bother with craft fairs any more.

PoetessWug said...

WOW! I didn't know this debate about 'handmade' was going on! O_O I, like you, don't write a lot of my patterns down. The details change from thing to thing, and I kinda go with the flow. But trust and believe...they ARE 'handmade'! MY hands made 'em!!! LOL...We all have our own criteria I guess. :-)

Bluebell Design said...

Handmade to me means something you've lavished time and skill on. If someone makes the pendant from metal or clay or whatever, then adds it to a purchased chain, it's handmade. If someone buys a pendant and adds it to a bought chain - then it's not handmade. Even if the pendant is made using instructions, tutorials, isn't an original design, the maker has MADE it, therefore it qualifies. Just my humble opinion!

Heather Leavers said...

Thanks Wug and Bluebell - I think our own individual opinions are what matter in this case. There has been too much of the "my handmade is more handmade than yours". It's easier, perhaps, to define what is NOT handmade.

Amy, the Greedy Crocodile said...

What a fascinating post Nifty! How interesting to see how tidy your yarn stash is, and what the meerkat's bottoms look like, and the inside of the cello!

Sue Doran said...

I haven't got a Folksy shop yet, sounds like their rules might favour me more than Etsy. Good to know, thanks!

For what it's worth, even if someone doesn't make any of the beads, if they put different mass produced beads together in an artful way, then I think that's handmade. Putting one item on one chain is pushing handmade too far when all they've done is bent a headpin! :-)