I had an interesting phone call recently from the promoter of a show to which I have applied. This is a show in which all crafts must be handcrafted by the artisan who is personally present at the show representing their own work. We discussed the concepts of "handmade" or "handcrafted" versus manufactured items purchased for resale. This blog entry is an expression of my opinion on the matter.
Carl Sagan said that if you truly wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe. I am not remotely interested in trying to take over God’s job - first of all, there are several very good reasons I'm not God, and besides that He's already doing a great job - so I use what is available to me in the making of my particular “apple pies,” my lovingly handcrafted jewelry pieces.
I do purchase components, such as beads, crystals, drilled stones, etc., and findings such as ear wires, posts, clasps, chain, wire, and so on, as well as the wire, sheet metal, or the metal clay material which I make into the beautiful fine silver drops and pendants. All these things are components, parts or materials that I purchase to assemble into jewelry and with very few exceptions (chains and certain special clasps, for example) I do make everything I present for sale. I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in this business of using purchased parts and components for making jewelry– I have observed that most of the jewelry makers admitted to the arts and craft shows I’ve ever been to also use purchased components in the construction of their jewelry pieces.
Among my crafter/artisan friends, we refer to manufactured items purchased for resale as “Buy/Sell” or “BS” (a handy double entendre), for short.
Here's the thing - any fool can order a load of stuff, whether it's made in China or wherever else, and slap a price tag on it. True crafters and artisans, including myself, hate “BS” because it causes the buying public to think less of what we do, and to expect less – less quality, less price, and less credibility since a “reseller” can crank out merchandise that is often unimaginative and/or poorly made, at undercut prices. This undermines the efforts of the crafter or artisan. I'll tell you what - it feels like just one more way that the little mom-and-pop shops are being gobbled up by the big box stores.
I have known people who kept shop where they hired people to assemble their designs. I consider that manufacturing and that’s fine for its purposes, but I do still make all my own pieces, which is why so many of my pieces are ones-of-a-kind. I may make multiples of certain things, and I take custom requests all the time, but my own hand is in every piece. I make each one. Me. I make them. When I'm working on a thing, whether necklace, bracelet, earrings, pendants - whatever it is - I think about the joy it gives me to make this, to handle these materials, and may the ultimate wearer or recipient of this piece enjoy it and be blessed by it. Lovingly Handcrafted, every blessed piece. It's a labor of love and a matter of pride.
Even though I am working hard to upgrade and upscale my look and my market, I still make all my own pieces. I will certainly make an announcement if that should ever change.
Thank you for your time.