Live Handmade.

I'm about to open a can of get ready.

Here's the thing...I think the 'Buy Handmade' idea is slightly flawed. Not that I think buying handmade is flawed, because I think it brilliant. What I think is flawed is that it only speaks to part of the equation. If we want the idea of the value of handmade to keep expanding, we have to get people excited not just about buying stuff someone made, but about making things themselves and about giving handmade things they've either bought or made as gifts. Oh and finally, we have to get people excited about getting handmade things as gifts!

So here's my thought:

Make handmade. Buy Handmade. Give handmade. Live handmade.

Until we get people excited about the whole spectrum of handmade, aren't we kinda missing the point? Plus, 'Buy Handmade' seems like a directive. It feels like it's being dished up with a side of guilt.  BUY HANDMADE!  But if you add all of these other thoughts above to the mix and it feels invitation.  You are cordially invited to the joy of handmaking! Yay!

So here comes the can of many people make stuff, ask folks to 'Buy Handmade', sell stuff...and then take their money to Target or Anthropologie or Restoration Hardware and don't think twice about it?

Does everyone with the Buy Handmade button really and truly walk their talk? Is it okay to not always buy handmade if you take the pledge or do you have to skulk about secretly if you want to buy something not handmade?

Look, I buy finished mass produced goods, I'm not going to lie. I also buy handmade, vintage and thrift. I used to own a retail gallery and most all of what we sold was handmade, so I have a deep appreciation for the value of handmade. Still, I can't say that everything I buy this holiday season will be handmade, though most of what I give will be. I am making handmade gifts because our funds are low for buying in general. It is what it is, and one of the pieces to this career was a handmade ornament I gave as a gift when funds were low years back.

Okay to take this further, how do we get beyond preaching the value of 'buying handmade' to the choir of handmakers and getting the masses excited about making? If they don't get what it takes to make it, they aren't going to want to pay much for it. This is the dilemma I think most handmakers face and is why a lot of folks like me end up making stuff and selling for publication or tutorials.  We can't compete and we can't undervalue our talents.  If we charge what it is worth in terms of time, materials and labor people are going to do what my customers did and say, "I saw that at Target for much cheaper."

Because to them that slick and perfect mass produced knock off is actually more appealing. They simply don't know what it took to make the original handcrafted design or why something made by hand has so much resonance and richness.

When I was a kid, my mother, grandmother and father made all sorts of things. Costumes, pillows, clothing, bent tin lanterns, upcycled jewelry, recrafted furniture, collage, handpainted objets d'art. I have these stacks of vintage craft magazines filled with idea after idea sent in by readers who made all sorts of wonderful things using all sorts of techniques I have not seen in years.  There are even things in these magazines everyone knew how to do back in the day I have never seen. Why? What happened? I know there are many, many makers out there, but most of the folks out there are not makers.  I think until we get them excited about the making, it will be hard to get them excited about the buying.

Maybe I'm delusional. These are just thoughts. Do you like my button?  I made it myself.  Feel free to spread it about like crafty manure.

Look, a squirrel!

We have a new video coming, I swear. It has been an editing nightmare. We should have it up tomorrow morning, but we make no guarantees. 



Andrea Currie said...

Margot you are so not alone! We've struggled with this for years. for 6 years we just told people that if they bought us anything new it would be donated. This year we're taking a different stance by getting everyone involved in the most non-intimidating way possible. They send us something they need transformed and we add our creative touch. If they send us nothing then they get nothing! It sounds a bit harsh but you have to take a stand to influence change. Go you!!

Margot Potter said...


I love this idea! This is exactly what I am trying to articulate.

Rock on.


Erin Nagy said...

Is it ok if I use this graphic for a new facebook group called Handmade in Hancock County Ohio?

Margot Potter said...

Hi Erin

It's cool if you use it to spread the sentiment or post it on your page, but if you mean as your actual logo...well...that's a little different. This is part of a big picture thing I'm working on behind the scenes.

Email me at and we can chat.