I would like to share here with you some of my thoughts in the matter.
To begin with, ‘handmade’, means for me simply, made by hand. Beautifully or sloppily, uniquely or mass produced –by hand- , creatively or copied, all is possible.
Although we all use the term handmade as a synonymous for exclusively made, we all know that is not that, per se. The hilarious site Regretsy is a good source for horrors made by hand. From dried orange peel posing for earrings to ‘artistically’ put together clothing that won’t stand wearing, let alone washing, there are masses of stuff made by hand that could have better remained unmade.
So, in order to continue to use the term handmade as a term to express quality, we need to be more specific, handmade alone is not enough.
Ten years ago, or thirty, the situation was not much different, in my opinion. At that time, there were exclusive shops offering beautifully handmade items and we were all being pestered with itchy hand knits.
What has changed? What has changed is that with the onset of internet, Etsy and similar sites have made possible to sell handmade wares without the need to peddling them to shops or fairs.
Anybody with a modest camera and basic computer knowledge can offer his/her products to a world wide audience.
And in the strength of Etsy, its availability, resides also its weakness. Everybody can put up stuff for sale. And while Etsy has been a life saver for us, I notice by myself that I don’t browse as much on Etsy as I used to do.
There is an amazing amount of talent on Etsy. Gorgeous items, true art. But to discover them, one has to wade through a still bigger sea of items that are made by hand, but without involvement of the mind, or the soul.
I know that I may sound elitist, or snobbish, but I dream of an ‘Etsy-Deluxe’, so to speak, a curated Etsy for only hand-well-made items. Items that are original and durable, items made without cutting corners, items with artistic and esthetic value.
The term handmade has devaluated by its success, and a new word –or a new approach- is needed.
I would love to hear your thoughts in the matter.