The value of Handmade

studio, kri kri, tall gourd lamp, work in progress
Kri Kri adding stripes to Tall Gourd lamp base

“What value, if any, do handmade objects add to our lives and homes today?”

One of the first things I notice is that items that are not machine made¬† seem to stand out from the crowd of other objects in a room. Regardless of how skillfully it is made, the handmade object has a life of its own. A handmade piece of cloth, or a painting versus a print, can completely change how a room feels. I could say, “It adds warmth.” But what is that “warmth”?

Every item that has been hand crafted captures some of the human energy that went into making it. That is something that can’t be replicated by a machine. That is the “warmth”. An item made by hand is tactile. Primitive or not, that item contains a spirit and becomes a manifestation of our creative potential. Having artisan made objects around me gives me inspiration, indirectly. They do not make me feel that I need to create. Instead, I feel more connected to my human-ness in a comforting way.

A handmade object is imperfect. Perhaps that makes it more relaxing to be around. We are not perfect beings either. Subtly, one is reminded that there is beauty or at least charm in the irregular. Those who love crafts have come to appreciate those inevitable flaws.

It is my belief that handmade objects do add value to our lives. As technology continues to play a bigger role in our lives, it is important to remember how much our hands can do and discover. Handmade connects us to other humans in a sensual way. Handmade reminds us that we are creative beings, with flaws. Could it be possible that having more handmade objects in our lives might nudge us to be more accepting of ourselves and our human imperfections? Can those faults be quirks and considered endearing traits and characterful? More to ponder!

2015 motto

2015, fortune cookie messageRather than make a new years resolution, it has become my custom to instead select a motto to rally me for the coming year. This one came to me just before mid-night in a fortune cookie at the New Years Eve party. I think it was the best one of the bunch and one worth sharing.

“Be yourself. No one is more qualified.” How do we do this? As an artist, this statement is particularly meaningful as far as my work is concerned. I am always trying to understand and define my own style. It is easy to get distracted by creativity all around, many ideas and so much possibility.¬† It is not difficult to lose focus and confidence in what one does. Part of what this year’s motto says to me is, enjoy and appreciate the work of others, but don’t under-value your own efforts. I continue to look at my ceramics to decide what the strong points are and find the essentials. Focus on the positive. Trim away the superfluous. This works for the self too. The fortune cookie message also suggests that if I define and follow my own artistic sensibilities and can be myself, I will be happier. In 2015 I am taking time to see the best of what I do and who I am, and will try to do it better. Now, that’s starting to sound like a resolution!