Category: Writing

why buy handmade? handmade is a lesson.

orange sewing machine at volksfaden, berlin

I grew up in a house full of handmade, do-it-yourself spirit. My pop’s a mechanical engineer and a born fixer – the summer after we moved in, he designed and built our deck; a few years ago, it was our finished basement. And my mama has been sewing her whole life: her outfits, my outfits, curtains, blankets, doll clothes; she’s also contributed to my possibilities addiction when it comes to unloved furniture. They were taught by their parents, in turn, so you can say I’ve gained my creative spirit through honest means. I’ve never had reason to doubt my hands, because I grew up surrounded by hands that were capable of anything.

Not everyone is surrounded by such displays of human possibility. There are plenty of reasons, but for many, creativity is not believed to be possible.

laser cutter - dressform necklaces

It’s easy, today, to overlook the power of human hands. One could, conceivably, live an entire lifetime without ever really making anything. And that’s a shame, because creativity is something that comes naturally to the human spirit. It feels good to make things. And of those who never use their hands, who never paint or sew or knit or fix, for many it’s because they’ve never had an example.

That’s why I try to buy, to give, and to support handmade. When you give your child a handmade plush, you are teaching them that it is possible to do things yourself. When they understand that their toys were made by a single pair of human hands, rather than a giant whirring factory, they will come to realize the great gifts they, too, possess in their own hands.

octavia - handmade mini mousieAt one of my craft shows, a young girl approached my table. She was 10 or 11 years old, and she had come with her grandmother, but was exploring on her own. She picked up one of my mousies, turned it around in her hands, and it quickly won her approval. She then looked up from the mousie and looked at me as I sat behind the table. It was just a glance, but as she looked back at the mousie I saw a new depth in her eyes. An “aha!” moment, without a doubt. She saw the mousie and she saw the girl who made the mousie… and from that, she could become a girl who made things, too.

Buying handmade is a lesson, an example, and a great inspiration. By continuing to teach this lesson, we continue to remind people of the power that they hold in their own hands.

I’ve tried to answer the question, “why buy handmade?“, briefly in my Fluffyland shop, but I think it deserves more attention. This topic is especially close to my heart and I’d love to hear your thoughts on why you buy handmade.

seventeen syllables: a reflection

glowing jellyfish - baltimore aquarium special exhibitThe Haiku Project has come to an end. As abruptly as it began, my time spent recording each day in seventeen syllable spurts has reached its finale.

With any creative project, especially one that relies on repetition to reach some unknown goal, the most important step is to look back afterward and see what has come of all those little pieces of effort. This has been a more valuable project than I ever would have guessed when I came up with it… lots of aspects turned out differently than I had projected. Overall, the year’s worth of mini-poems shocks me with its depth and significance.

What the Haiku Have Taught Me.

  • Brevity.
    The compactness of a haiku is what lends it all of its depth. Condensing words, feelings, images into such a small space often grants it greater meaning than the same image would have had in another type of poem or expression. The skills developed here can be applied in all forms of writing.
  • Universality.
    With seventeen syllables, it’s impossible to get too personal. Small references to memories I hold will spark entirely different thoughts in anyone else, leaving everyone with a unique and meaningful experience. The haiku lack the specifics that would make them resonate less with their readers; they serve as a jumping off point where everyone can leave with his or her own interpretation and thoughts.
  • Post Value.
    Blogs are instantly more valued when there are posts occurring on a daily or at least regular basis. I had become infamous (at least with myself) for my brief, infrequent postings, and posting every day kept me on track. They were little: seventeen syllables + picture, but they had meaning and were usually something that most people could connect with on some level. My blog traffic increased 58% between December 2008 and December 2009!
  • Journaling.
    Although many of the haiku were much more poetic than a simple summary of my day, they almost always had a direct connection to something that had happened to me. Looking back, I can remember very small experiences that I certainly would have forgotten without these reminders. From the beginning to the end of 2009, I can witness in myself a measurable growth: a year’s worth of maturity. And it’s really nice to be able to reflect on all the little things that would have been lost otherwise.
  • Perception.
    The daily poems forced me to have a greater perception of my daily life. There were many days when I would be sitting at my computer at near midnight, struggling to remember anything significant from my day. Some of these sleepy haiku were of poor quality, but they have all taught me something: there is value and importance in every single day, and if we don’t look for it we’ve wasted that day.

orange jellyfish - baltimore aquarium special exhibit
As a final wrap-up, I want to say that I found this to be a very worthwhile project. It was challenging, because some days just don’t feel like creative days. This was a good daily practice because of its simplicity… even on lazy days I could get myself to spit out my three lines of poem. That’s the key: if you want to challenge yourself by doing something creative daily, by all means, go for it, but don’t make it something too complex or too limited. It has to be something that can grow on itself, not something that will shrink in possibility as time passes. But at the end, it’s amazing to see what can come out of those small time investments once they’ve been added up.

a few haiku for you

birthday pouch for my best friend new embroidery
whales swim in flocks upon
a corduroy sea.

cheerful, smiling girl
a helpful sewing genius
dons her green apron.

cut, cut the fabric
was that one-half or quarter?
perfectly straight line.

updated wordpress
no more spam for me – hurray!
other features too.

must speak in haiku
no time for a real posting
maybe tomorrow.
(or tuesday.)