What does handmade mean to you?? October 17 2013, 0 Comments
I can honestly say it is something I had never put much thought into. I had spent years collecting handmade jewellery from my travels but it tended to be the uniqueness of the item as opposed to the cost that attracted me.
Having started my own handmade jewellery business just a year ago I have come to the realisation that for a lot of people ‘handmade’ is a label that barely warrants much thought other than price and style.
Style is often very unique with handmade goods but costs can vary wildly depending on whether the maker is a hobbyist, just trying to cover the cost of materials in order to make the next batch or someone trying to run a business and earn a living doing what they love.
If I had a pound for every person that said to me “isn’t that unique you’re so talented” or “it’s so beautiful it must have taken you hours, where do your ideas come from? Etc. then walked off…… I would be a millionaire by now. So what is it about handmade that makes so many walk past with lovely words but a reluctance to buy?
As a handmade jewellery artist I go to great lengths to source and select all my materials. This means travelling far and wide to find wires, gemstones and beads that are not only different but of a quality that I’m happy with. My life no longer includes shopping for clothes, make up, shoes and perfume. These days wherever I happen to be in the world I’m hunting for gems and beads, checking out craft markets and boutique shops selling handmade items. Gathering ideas and inspiration, taking photos, studying colours, texture, form. I’m constantly envisaging my next design.
Every piece is designed individually, this usually means taking a notepad to bed and at 3am when my crazy brain is buzzing and you’re sound asleep I’m sketching ideas, ready to experiment with them the next day. The ideas, thankfully, never stop but need to be worked on as soon as possible before the moment is lost.
I test wear a sample from new designs for many months to ensure the quality and durability is of a standard that I’m happy with. My pieces have to be comfortable, as neat on the back as the front. Striking without being heavy and above all enjoyable to wear.
There is no such thing as an eight hour day. An artist’s work is never done. We live, breathe and dream our craft. When not actively making pieces, we are booking shows, marketing, accounting, planning displays, taking photos, updating websites etc.
How can this passion, commitment, time, effort and creativity be valued?? The short answer is it can’t unless you are an artist at the top of your trade.
Most of the ‘handmade’ craftspeople I have had the pleasure to meet feel almost guilty asking for money for doing something they love. Most will say they could never charge for the hours they spend making items. How much do you cost the design element and uniqueness off a product? The time spent researching, sourcing, experimenting, testing, cost of paying for fairs, petrol, insurance, displays and standing for hours in all weathers hoping people will appreciate what you do and choose ‘handmade’ over mass produced.
So I ask you, next time you go to an ‘arts or craft fair’ or look at ‘handmade’ goods, spend a moment chatting to the artist……….we are really nice people and love you to show an interest. Take time to look at the designs, and quality of materials. Imagine the love and energy, time and commitment that goes into each piece. The pleasure we get from knowing you appreciate our work. Then rest assured that we are dedicated to customer service and will happily do anything we can to help you find your perfect piece or even make it just for you.
It might cost a little more than a mass produced item but you are getting something money can’t buy, a little piece of our heart and soul and a whole lot of love.