Sunday, August 22, 2010

What is the Definition of Handmade?

Here the dictionary is no help at all. As far as Webster's is concerned handmade is anything not machine made. So what about people who use sewing machines to create their art?

I had a conversation recently with another artisan who told me how frustrated she was becoming with having to repeatedly explain the term "handmade". I thought the definition was obvious and wondered what kind of people needed this clarification. I found them this past weekend.

Is it handmade if it's created by artisans in a foreign country and resold here at a craft show?

Is it handmade if someone hangs a pre-made charm or pendant from a ready made chain and calls it a necklace?

Is it handmade if the beads are machine manufactured and resold at home parties where you can string them on heavy chains to design your own bracelet?

Is it handmade if it's clothing made by individuals in a factory in Southeast Asia and resold at a craft show.

Is it handmade if someone has created a design and has it mass produced onto t-shirts or tote bags at a facility in a third world country, then sells the inventory at a local craft show.

I'm sure a couple of these examples could be and are being debated. You don't have to weave the cotton and print the design on it before you sew it (by hand) into a tote bag. But there's handmade and then there's HANDMADE.

We have never attended an event where we were asked so many times if we make all the jewelry ourselves. And then the look of surprise when we answer "yes".

Resellers are the norm in Templeton; they're expected and anticipated. You can buy cheap, get a discount for multiples, and purchase the same item in several sizes. What's better than that?

The vendor behind us was selling stuffed animals on a stick. You know, the kind of thing that's hawked on the sidewalk during a big parade. A customer asked her if she made them herself and she replied that she did. Funny, there was another vendor across the street with the same unicorns. Maybe they both used the same pattern.

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