i heart hand made, but...
I love hand made, I really do, but to be honest, I'm getting a little tired of it. Not the actual making - that is as paradoxically relaxing and stimulating as ever. And I still ceaselessly gaze at and stroke everything I make. And tell everyone I made it. And wear it as often as is humanly possible... Oh the thrill of hand made, the sense of achievement, the buzz. But I can't help thinking the hand made market is a little oversaturated at present.
I went to two local markets on Friday evening. They show cased the best of hand made and design in northern Tasmania, and there were some incredibly beautiful products on display. Little girl dresses from vintage fabric and doilies, ceramic earrings, fabric covered buttons, Christmas decorations, little girl dresses from gorgeous contemporary cotton prints, fabric covered earrings, journals from gorgeous contemporary cotton prints, bags from vintage fabrics and doilies, cushions with beautiful contemporary embroidery, fabric covered hair ties. But it's all a bit same-y. I've been to Agfest and the Deloraine Craft Fair and several local markets and, apart from a few unique artists and designers, the same people turn up at the same stalls with the same wares, and I'm a little tired of it.
Don't get me wrong. The products were beautiful. I'm surprised the stall holders could even drag their eyes from their wares, so lovely were they. But how much can we take?
I may be the only one feeling this way - the blogosphere is gushing with praise for the markets; many stallholders sold out. By all accounts the whole thing was a huge success. Yay for hand made! Yay for beating those big, nasty corporations and choosing locally produced quality products! Yay, yay, yay.
So why did I feel a little deflated as I walked away with just a few carefully selected items? Is it because I have no children and might like to sweep all the baby clothes onto the floor and trample them into the ground? Perhaps I'm just jealous that I haven't made space or time for my own hand made business endeavours. Have I missed the hand made boat? (It sure is hard to find things to buy when every time I look at an item the thought bubble explodes from my head: 'I could make that!') Or is it that in hand made becoming so big it becomes its own corporation? Not individually, but on a grand scale. Consumerism is still consumerism, even when made by the girl next door... unless it's recycled or upcycled of course! I also know that in other suburbs of town there are people who would not pay anywhere near the prices being asked down town - a product's value is only as much as a person is willing to pay, and to those people, hand made is worth diddly squat.
In the end, I kind of decided I don't want to be part of it. (Although my heart betrays me even now, cruising around local crafty blogs and feeling a pang of envy at other's success) I still love hand made, I still love making things myself, but I think I'm going to keep it small scale - for loved ones, friends and myself. What I make might not be valued by what I can sell it for, but the feeling I put into them.
That's what it's all about really.