Friday, January 31, 2014

Why Handmade: “When I Was Your Age”

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

I’m a kid of the 1980’s. We all knew what brand of underwear “Marty McFly” wore. You were no one if you didn’t own that brand of jeans, this pair of sneakers, and a particular watch. Moms fought in department stores over a large headed doll that you could adopt from a garden. Everything was about brands and labels. If you were not succumbing to the commercialism, there was something inherently wrong with you. It was the time.

Old Guess Ad by David Weekly

I didn’t own any of those labels. I’d say the only part I cared about, was whether Marty made it back to 1985. My mother made a majority of my clothes, not because money was tight, but because she liked to do it. I had beautiful clothes with no labels. She made me dolls that looked like the ones which were popular. They played no differently that “real” ones, and I appreciated the effort she put into them. I had Barbie dolls, and my mother made their clothes, until I was old enough to make them myself. For the most part, I liked having what she made me, despite the rest of the world screaming that handmade bad. I do recall being a bit concerned when she announced she was going to make me a bathing suit. Somehow, I pictured a 1920’s bathing suit sagging everywhere, but instead I had the best fitting suit of my life. I apologized for my lack of faith.

Today, times have changed. We are returning to a respect for handmade items. Crafts and skills that were at risk of dying out are being revived. People are making homemade soap. Old sewing machines are being dug out of attics, dust swept off, and people are learning to sew again. There is more disdain for commercial store bought products today, as we look more towards quality than quantity.

There is something inherently special about having the opportunity to speak with the person who made the item you’ve purchased. There is an element of honesty about it too. They have put their name on it, and they are personally confirming their product is of high quality. Labels still exist, and there are still plenty of people who succumb to their power, but the shift back to appreciating handmade items is a breath of fresh air.

Boston Handmade Marketplace 2013 by Jessica Burko

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