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Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Handmade Manifesto vol.1

slow down by thewheatfield on etsy

I've really been in a contemplative mood lately. It is a symbiotic thought process really. I live a very simple life by many standards, but I'm always thinking of ways to make my life even more simple. However, sometimes making your life more simple makes it more complicated in other ways. I've been thinking a lot lately about the nature of THINGS, of STUFF. Modern production, the accumulation of stuff, the labor that goes into things in general and my place in the whole realm of it.

For instance, soap, I'm sort of militant about buying all natural soap. Yes, I could probably make it myself, but that is a whole other art I don't have time to be taking up. I started to think about the production aspect of it though. What makes up real soap? Lye, fat, water, fragrance/botanicals. All of those things could be drummed up naturally, except for the lye. How is lye made? A quick google search led me to a rudimentary way to make lye the old fashioned way.

Obviously, those who are making soap are using commercial sources for their ingredients. Some probably grow their own herbs and additives. Botanicals, goat's milk, etc. but most are probably buying the hard stuff commercially (the lye and the fat, unless you're Tyler Durden).

And, that's fine, but I continue to think about "progress." About making something HANDMADE. What is the essence of HANDMADE? My products are made by hand but my resources are still commercial. If those resources didn't exist tomorrow, I would have to rethink my work.

And so, that brings to mind being an artisan. What does it mean to be an artisan? I wish to be an artisan, and yet, I am not. I do not use raw materials to make something. How many of us do? Not many....How many of us even know how?

I would love to hear your comments. Your thoughts and reactions. This is a huge topic which covers economics, art, craft, sustainability, etc. What do you have to say?

This is the first part in a continuing series. to be con't....


Heather said...

great post, b!
i love the challenge in thoughts and actions you've put forth.
makes me think of my cousin, betsy.
she has made and sold clothing that she took from the rawest form...uncarded wool and followed it through all the way by hand to constructing clothing! THAT amazes me. She didn't raise the animal and sheer the wool but from then on....all her!
i can't imagine being that industrious.

Designs by Dawn Marie said...

I just love this post Barbara. It is very thought provoking and for me really emphasizes the use of local materials, locally grown produce, dairy, etc. I've really over the last 2 years been more diligent about knowing "WHERE" and "How" something comes in to my life, so I'm really glad you put this post together with your thoughts.

Thanks for making us all think, and appreciate all the little things! Have a fabulous weekend!


Pretty Things said...

Hi there -- I wanted to thank you for your kind words about losing Buddy. They meant a lot.

Barbara Bechtel said...

Thank you all. I'm still thinking alot about making things by hand. @Heather, i really respect those in the fiber arts, because their trail is so apparent from sheep to fiber to garment. i think it is an ideal model and I wonder how other crafts can replicate that model from ewe to sweater? :)