The Power of Handmade

I was once asked how I achieve the primitive look in my ceramics. The only answer I could give is that I just do the best I can, and that’s how things turn out. Despite my sincerest efforts, the result of my labors is always just a little crooked or a bit off center. If one accepts a wabi-sabi philosophy, imperfections are a sign of humbleness and humanness, guiding one toward a gentler, more tolerant definition of beauty.

new vase in progress

I consider my work to be a dialogue between me and the clay. Sometimes the clay has something to say. Sometimes I disagree and vice versa.  Oftentimes, I wish my creation were just a bit more perfect. But my method of creating involves making molds. Once a piece has been cast in plaster, it is around for quite some time. Not until many pieces are made, worked on, and then used repeatedly, do I come to understand and appreciate the irregularity of my shapes. The process, like relationships with people and forming friendships, takes time.

pouring molds, kRI kRI Studio

The imperfections of my original works are in my molds, permanently. There is nothing I can do but accept them. Therein comes the wabi-sabi sensibility. In humbleness, I put my heart and soul into my work. In return, I bond with my forms, getting a feeling of purpose and integrity in what I do.

Creating things and having elements of handmade in our lives helps us develop our sensitivities to differences and to be more mindful. Handmade creations are imperfect by nature. That is what gives them their charm. So, it is with people too. We are all individuals, quirky, unique, awkward, and each special. Long days in my studio allow me time to think and devote my attention to the clay. As I do, it speaks to me and whispers, “When talking with others, listen to them. Try to hear what they are really saying. Respect them. In this way you come to understand them and accept them in all their imperfections.” The clay also asks for patience.

I have sense of mission while I work. I want the care I take with my ceramics to be passed along to the user. By encouraging my customers to not just admire, but to handle and use my ceramics, I hope they will connect with the human element of ‘’handmade’’. I believe it is important to make room for handmade objects in our homes and in our daily lives. With their wabi-sabi character and imperfect beauty, they have the power to enrich our lives. Just listen.

Read more of my thoughts on wabi-sabi on Beyond The Beige

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!