Sunday, May 22, 2011

Is Handmade Better?

Not according to my friend's sister, an opinionated artist who says machines make goods cheaper, faster and more consistently. "Why would anyone want to pay more for handmade? You can't even tell the difference."

She has a point.

But, as a result we live in a disposable society. There are incentives to buy new cell phones only after a year. We are forced to retire capable computers that can't run the latest software. A very successful Swedish company sells furniture we assemble and after a few years we'll see on the curb waiting for trash day.

It wasn't always this way. I have a couple of 100 year old pocket watches that are still keeping time and cameras from the '40's that are clicking away to prove it. These garage-sale-gems were built in a era where things were made to last, often for a lifetime.

When did we suddenly move away from owning objects for decades? Are we better now for it? Or does it make these things inferior?

These are some questions I asked myself after speaking to Sarra in her studio at the Distillary. (I found a recent video (click here) on Toronto Standard showing the behind the scenes of her unique textile business). I was blown away by her dedication and passion to her craft.

Let's throw out the debate for now, as we won't solve it here. But rather focus on the benefit by connecting with these driven artists and the items they choose to make whether it be a handbag, a piece of cheese, or even crackers. And to be reminded we are creative creatures who were driven to take chisel to stone to make a tool or piece of art just may inspire others to do the same, or support those who do.