Handmade and Homemade are Not the Same Thing

29 04 2010

A Facebook post about an article,  www.wilsonart.com/design/statement/viewarticle.asp?articleid=93 , that (supposedly) trumpeted handmade has raised my blood pressure a bit, so – fair warning – I am climbing up on my soapbox. Here is the part of the article that had me yelling at the screen:

 “Handmade” is the new avant-garde. In contrast to ultra-slick, high-touch and high-performance, this trend fosters things that are soft, loosely constructed and decidedly amateurish-looking. The overall result looks like it was made just for you with love from your grandmother.

“Amateurish-looking” 

“Made just for you with love from your grandmother”

 REALLY???

This kind of misinformation perpetuates ignorance about the true nature and value of fine craft. I am not suggesting that there is no value in things homemade, only that there is more than sentimental value in fine handmade work.  Homemade simply means not commercially prepared; handmade can be much more than that. When something is made by the hands of a gifted artisan, it is truly a work of art.

Granny, unless she was a fiber artist herself, never produced anything like the fabulous handwoven scarves of Amber Kane  http://fabricatedends.blogspot.com/ or the glorious  ponchos designed and crocheted by Margie Fultz http://www.offthehookbymargie.com/ . I would bet, while many of us have grandmas who’ve made us a doll, we never got one like those Diane Troutman http://www.troutmanoriginals.com/ designs and sculpts and sews by hand.  These are the works of fine craftsmen – handmade and homemade are not the same thing.

While some handmade fine craft is decidedly rustic, there are many fine handmade works that are extraordinarily refined.  Take a look at the junkyard sculpture of Jason Lyons http://www.ebsqart.com/Artists/cmd_4240_profile.htm to see what magic can be coaxed from found objects by a master artist.  In contrast, the highly polished surfaces and graceful shapes of Tim Knight’s pottery http://www.knightfirestudio.com/  are a far cry from rustic, but his pottery is also handmade fine craft. These are the works of fine craftsmen – handmade and homemade are not the same thing.

Thoughtful composition and flawless execution of work sprung from a powerful imagination and dedication to excellence are the hallmarks of fine handcraft – handmade and homemade are not the same thing.

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5 responses

29 04 2010
Paul Grecian

I like you on your soapbox. I agree with you as well that there is an important distinction to make here.

Paul Grecian

29 04 2010
Valour

To me handmade means quality, not “Amateurish-looking”.

I may be biased because I handmake things myself. And while the handmade furniture I make may not have the high gloss sheen of a cardboard Ikea shelf, It will last forever and look as good as the day it was “handmade” with pride.

The unfortunate part is trying to convince people of the value of a handmade/handcrafted product. Most of the time, they just look at cost and end up buying a disposable piece of furniture or a piece of mass produced art at a fraction of the cost.

29 04 2010
Margie Fultz

Thanks for the praise and kind words, Paula. It is frustrating when I say that I crochet and people think of toilet paper covers, or a granny square afghan, or look at my work and say, “my grandma crochets, she could make that,” when in fact most of what I make is my own design, and I don’t think granny did quite what I do!

29 04 2010
ybcmarcom

I don’t let that trip my trigger. There ARE people who know the difference! When the others ask Grandma to make them a purse, they will figure it out and be back to see you Margie!

14 05 2010
Jen

Paula, this is so true! There is a difference between home-made and handmade in this sense. It’s the difference between craft and fine craft. My grandmother, god rest her soul, was a crafter, she made plastic canvas goodies, stenciled things, painted things, did ceramics, etc. She worked hard at what she did and put a lot of care and attention into what she made. BUT what she made and sold was crafty. The designs came from craft magazines that she bought and craft books. What many of my PA Guild of Craftsmen friends and I do is fine craft, we are craftsmen and artists. There is a difference. Ours are unique designs that we’ve created using our specific mediums. This is not to say that “crafty” crafts don’t have their place, they do, but “crafty does not equal fine craft.

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