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the handmade conundrum

December 9, 2012

This year I made a promise (mostly to myself) that I would be buying primarily from fellow handmade stores for the holiday season. I decided this because a) handmade things are often better made, more thought out, and given more Love than those from the big box stores but also b) because if I’m wanting to make a living making handmade work, I should support the handmade movement as much as I possibly can. What I couldn’t buy handmade (published books and electronics) I would buy locally, because this handmade movement is also about supporting local business and the local economy.

And you know what? It wasn’t that hard. I have some amazing friends and cohorts in this crafty, arty, community and I was able to find impeccably made clothing, funny and relevant screen printed t-shirts, calendars, art prints, kitchen ware, housewares, home decor, jewelry, kids toys, imaginary play sets . . . and SO MUCH MORE via the absolutely and utterly amazing friends that surround me. I didn’t even try that hard. And that, my friends makes me happy.

The conundrum comes in when I explain to my friends and family who are not part of this movement why I’m doing what I’m doing. No, they understand that – they know my living is (almost primarily) based on making things and thus want to support that – what they don’t understand is the POSSIBILITY!

I told my aunt this past weekend that I was buying primarily handmade for the holidays – and told her some of the beautiful items I had ordered, custom even, for our relatives. Her response was interesting– she nodded and smiled, and then said, ‘Well, that must be hard shopping for Griffin though,” and I paused, and thought for only a minute before I launched into the half dozen (or more, he’s a bit spoiled) ingenious items I purchased for my dear little boy from FRIENDS in this handmade movement. We’re talking Waldorf Dinosaurs and Triceratops masks, handmade puppets and more! If anything, shopping for my little guy was quite possibly the easiest shopping experience when it came to shopping handmade. No, he might not be getting the latest electronic device (I’m sure he’ll get it from somewhere) or that cute t-shirt from Target with the monster that every other three year old is wearing – but he will be getting customized, one of a kind, items made just for him. And that’s what it’s all about.

So, before you go out there thinking, ‘I can’t make the pledge to buy handmade’ because of this or that – I beg of you to think again. The possibilities are endless I tell you, endless. Maybe you can’t afford a pair of handmade blue jeans (I can’t) but you can start small (how about a instead) and know that you’re not supporting some big business’s CEO and his vacation to the Virgin Islands where he embezzles away who knows how much money on the daily – instead you’re providing small local business with the capital to keep going – to pay for their kids’ piano lessons, to further their art education, to pay their bills and simply, to make your community a better place.

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