On the subject of handmade


Within the small series of posts, entitled "What goes into a Fig&Me doll", I decided to touch upon the obvious, but none the less marvelous, fact that the dolls are handmade. Handmade by me and by me only. I know I have a tendency to repeat myself to the point of tediousness, but sometimes one has to pound the same nail many times before it actually sinks in. I still can't believe it.


Handmade artifacts of some sort or another, wether a coffe cozy, a diaper cover, a blanket or a one of a kind item, are all made by the hands of either employees, crafters or artisans. Sometimes they work in unison with other creative minds calling themselves a "collaboration", sometimes the items are created by a group of individuals with the same name or under the auspices of the same goal, therefore these are called a cooperative (if the profits are equally divided amongst the makers), a team, etc. Sometimes there is an individual who has set forth to produce a larger quantity of these handmade items, and for such a thing they create a company. Sometimes the items are handmade by one person only, who does it for a hobby or to fill a creative need, these will go in the category of crafters. Now of course, there are many places with factories of people making items with their hands. Even though these items are made by hand, I feel that once something is produced in this type of manufacturing process it doesnt even count as a unique handcrafted product. It is just not the same.

When the handmade item is made from start to finish, by one person only, who is devoted to this form of expression, it is their means of income, and has high quality standards (as this one person has to master several different techniques and many different aspects involved in the creation of their handmade item) then we could say that person is an artisan. That is their profession. I am not an artisan, but I do aspire to be one, one fine day. I do not belong to a cooperative, to a team, nor do I run a company. I am but one person, learning many skills and evolving continually.


Handmade items, especially dolls, have all kinds of designations and categories. One of a kind is a rather well-used term nowadays in regards to waldorf-inspired dolls, but in my opinion is not properly used. A one of a kind doll is made from a single pattern. Proportions, hair style, face, fabrics, etc...are never, ever used again. The term is likely used so commonly due to the fact that it's pretty hard to replicate a waldorf-style doll. The creation process takes a life of its own, and the outcome is almost never assured. There is also the issue of using handmade supplies, wether dyeing the yarn for their hair or buying an art yarn, chances are you are not going to be able to replicate it even if you tried. But, within these parameters, I've seen many dolls that look almost like copies of previous dolls. We usually call them twins or long-lost cousins.

Now, there is the term Limited Edition. Which I guess is also not used in its meaning, as even though the dolls are made from the same pattern in a limited number available, each of them is pretty unique and does not seem like a reproduction of "one".

So I guess all these terms really can not be applied to the kind of dollmaking that I do. Each doll is a single creation, bearing the mark of its maker, and demonstrating the skills and capabilities of the person that brought her or him to being, at the exact time when the doll was made. That is one of the particulars of creating with all natural materials, but that is soup for another post.


On top of talking, very randomly I know, about some simplistic definitions of handmade, and of handmade dolls, I also want to approach the actual term: hand made. There has been an enormeous rising of creative individuals in the last few years. You only have to look at DIY websites and your local bookstore section on craft books. All zones are heavily receiving input: sewing, paper mache, dollmaking, painting, home decorating, scrapbooking, you name it!. An enormeous urge I would say to make things with our hands. I couldnt be happier about it. It seems like people are really tuning in to what it means to make things with your hands, to the immense joys you receive when producing something useful or just pretty to look at (the universe of artists I'm afraid). To getting out of the mass-produced, cheap as chips, run of the mill universe, that is fed down our throats day in, and day out.

There is a stronger appreciation for something that was created by the hands of a human, that you paid for without intermediaries, that you are supporting with your money. Every purchase I feel is a choice. The purchases we do, the ones we can afford, let them be true to who we are. I want to invest our hard-earned money into things that are useful AND beautiful, and that were also created through immense joy, made of natural materials that have less impact on our aching world. Purchases that give us a story, that have meaning to us. If we care to find out a little about the individuals who made these things, we can probably find many things that will stick with us through the life of this item. Almost every sincere crafter out there, and all artisans I am sure, are dead serious about the quality of the items they create. They are giving you the best they can.


This long diatribe has now been a long rambling post and I apologize, but I think I can end with a cute note. If you havent done it, please watch this video. It takes about 20 minutes of your life but you will understand so much more. It is absolutely clarifying on the nature of the mass-producing/constantly consumming machine we are slaves to.  

And a very clear and simple post on why is better to buy handmade, please read this SimpleMom post. You will love it, I am sure.
Posted on August 10, 2011 and filed under dollmaking, process.