I love that so many crafts are experiencing a renaissance. It tickles me pink! Bloody heck even macramé is 'cool' again! I remember making pot hangers in primary school! I love it! And Granny squares! Wow! Who would have thought our grungy opp shop and street finds to furnish our inner city flats in the late 80's early 90's - loved and/or hand made by our Nonna's, to be abandoned by our parents - would become an adored 'style' by the next round of generational 'hipsters', and that all those Saturday mornings spent crafting on the lounge room floor in your P.J's, or in your mums sewing cabinet 'messing up the threads', would actually lead to something beautiful.
There has been some talk of late (even bitchy heated debate by some in social media circles) about what hand made is. People do like to define things and put them in boxes after all, and that in itself is not altogether a bad thing.
And I have found that when we are talking and/or thinking about making or buying 'hand made', sometimes things like fair trade, local, green, eco, sustainable, et cetera ... words like this often get thrown around at the same time as 'hand made'. Which is great! It gets people thinking.
This gets me to thinking about my supplies for my hand made items. Are they fitting into what it means to me, to be labeled and put in the same box as hand made? Is the wool for my latest granny square project truly local? Or have I just bought it from my local mega craft shop? Is it shawn from Australian sheep, and milled in an Australian knitting mill? Are my cushion inserts made from environmentally friendly materials? Are they made in Australia? Are my fabrics made in sustainable and responsible ways? I suppose we can only do our best to answer these questions for ourselves.
All of which leads to somewhat harder questions ... Like, what is truly handmade?
What is the difference between piecing something together, or decorating it, or creating something from 'scratch'?
Did you bake the cake if you used a packet mix? Or only if you grew the wheat to grind the flour, and raised the chickens to lay the eggs?
It's awesome that you can get so many organic and sustainable materials and supplies theses days, and the internet has made it so easy to reach suppliers and buy specialist materials. But is it ok to embellish or decorate a T-shirt purchased from your local Kmart and call it 'handmade'?
In light of the recent incidents in Bangladesh, (which is only bringing these cruelties to our attention again, (because it ain't the first time) but it does not really effect us enough to be changing our ways,) and from what I know of factory workers, and of conditions in factory settings in most parts of the world (including piece workers and out workers in our own sweet land, and we won't go into the exploits of 'chain' employees at all right now) ... I tend to think not. Phew!
So is it important to me, that what I call 'hand made' is the same as what others call 'hand made'? Probably not. There is room in this world for all types. And there is no reason that we can't all play nice.
So maybe, more importantly, I should be asking myself ... Is it important to me, that what I make with my own hands, is made with the best sourced fabrics, materials and bits that I can find?
Is "local, sustainable, eco friendly, responsible, fair trade" and other concepts such as these, important to me when gathering materials for my hand made creations? I think 'fuck yeah!' is putting it mildly :)
At least it gets us all thinking. and considering things a bit more.
Mindfulness is a brilliant thing, if only a first (yet constant) step.
Here is a link to a what I think is the best wool mill around :)
If you are out that way do drop in, because they have lots of specials bins there and stuff that they don't sell online ... Like Australian 100% wool stuffing for stuffing your wool felt and other such projects, as well as wool for spinning, dying, or felting yourself, as well as a stack of beautiful yarns for knitting and crochet et cetera.
Feel free to leave a comment about what 'hand made' means to you, or maybe you know of a great local supplier that you want to support by sharing a link :)
Happy hand made love everyone!