Friday, 14 June 2013

A Year of Handmade?

Big changes have been afoot in our household recently. Firstly I'm preparing for my first craft fair, so I've shifted the front room around a bit in order to allow me to actually have a proper work space and so far I'm loving it. The fruit has also started to come in, so over the past couple of weeks we've made lemon curd, rhubarb & orange jam, and strawberry jam. I'm also getting back into my stride with the breadmaking which is nice.

The biggest thing, though, is that we cancelled our TV licence yesterday. We figured most of the time we're just watching repeats or rubbish anyway and if we want to watch repeats we can watch catch up online. Today was the first TV free day and I have to say it was amazing. I got so much done!

Anybody who reads my other blog will know that I'm quite into the concept of self-sufficiency, and branching out into the world of handmade is for me just an extension of that. I love (and always have) that I can make gifts for people that they actually like and use, and if I'm buying something I enjoy being able to build some kind of a relationship with the person who has made the thing I'm buying (even if it's just a few quick emails or a short chat at a craft fair) I feel like I'm getting some idea of the passion, commitment and most of all the work that's gone into that thing and honestly, who wouldn't rather have something that somebody's got excited over and inspired by and poured their time into than something that's mass produced in some factory somewhere?

I struggle a lot with pricing my objects, mostly because I'm still in the development stage with a lot of my designs and so I have to factor in lots of extra time to the making process for figuring out how to actually do stuff, but with most of my products I would earn way below the minimum wage per hour because I just don't want to charge extortionately, but then I think the term 'extortionate' is relative because yes, if you're paying £65 for a mobile which has taken half an hour to mass produce in a factory somewhere then that's extortion of a kind, but to pay the same amount for something that may have taken days of somebody's time in planning, creating and putting together, something that's a unique design created from someone's imagination? I don't think that's extreme at all.

I made my first trade this week - I swapped one of my handknitted balls for these gorgeous earrings
Glass Bead Earrings - Lovely Green Glass Bead Brass Hook Earrings
image credit here

and some badges, made by lovely Sacha from Craftilicious Cats, and it made me so happy. As a kid I used to constantly tell my parents that money was a stupid concept and bartering was the way to go, and to be honest the more I think about it, the more I can see the logic. Obviously the way the world is set up requires the use of money for some things, but other things would be easy to trade.

All of this thinking led me to the conclusion that I want to try to go for a year buying all of my 'extras' (anything non-essential, by which I mean basically anything that isn't groceries) and gifts either second hand or handmade. I don't want to get anything mass produced. To be honest this is just the next step up from the Amazon boycott I've been doing for a year and a half in support of independent bookshops. If I'm ready to support the independents in books, why not clothes, homewares, sweets, hobbies, toys and gifts? Homemade is always better quality, more individual and generally nicer anyway! Homemade, here I come!

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