As a Maker of Things, I have come to appreciate everything that goes into small-scale production. And by “small-scale” I mean as small as an army of one. The World of Handmade is a vast and wonderful place where hard-working, committed, creative people are manifesting their dreams with their own two hands. In a world as interrelated as ours is showing itself to be, that is worth so much more than the carbon copies or artificial self-differentiators that are rampant in today’s marketplace.
One of a Kind (OOAK) Custom Betty and Veronica Bubble Danglers
Two years ago when my fiancee and I made the decision to cut cable tv out of our daily lives, I thought I would finally see the end of my life's constant commercial bombardment. I was excited to live in a world where I wouldn't have to experience the constant tumult of brands being shoved down my throat that promised to make me a unique individual if I purchased them along with the rest of millions of other people who were purchasing the same thing. So many products are espousing benefits that are supposed to add to your self-definition or allow you to "express yourself". But how can these products effectively do that when the exact same thing is also in the hands of many other people? In any case, cutting our cable did not bring an end to corporate sponsors entering our home, but at least it modified the frequency. Lessening the presence of corporate culture in my life has allowed me to appreciate the real value of handmade goods that much more.
Once upon a time the marketplace was the center of the city where everyone gathered to exchange their skills and handmade products for things that they needed but could not make or services they required but could not perform. Money, or a medium of exchanged allowed people to trade their wares and skills for credit that allowed them obtain those things and services they required. It was simply easier than searching for what is called a "double coincidence of wants" in which you exchange something you have with another person who has something you want. Money didn't have any value in isolation. Classical economic models apply to this market system, not a global market. With all of the economic fluctuations that have been occuring in recent years, it has come to light that economic predictions simply are not panning out. No one wants to say that the "market" these predictions are trying to forecast is simply to large. No one wants to say that a global marketplace might be a bad thing. Bigger is better, right? But the planet has been trying to tell us that this isn't the case, and it's time that we listened. Why put so many of your hard-earned dollars towards expensive items when you are clearly paying so much for the brand power? Companies that have the money to pay for a prime-time commercial slot during the Superbowl pass the expense on to you, the consumer, through their high price tags. You pay for the name, not necessarily the product.
Be proud of the things that you can do for yourself, and be proud to own something that you know came from the hardworking hands of another person just like you. Take an interest in learning a new skill. Fall back on the ways of living throughout human history that brought people together and built up communities. Don't be afraid to become A Maker of Things, and challenge yourself to learn about the amazing things that people in your very own community can do.
Visit Etsy and use the Shop Local option (clicking on the link will automatically load Guelph shops, but you can enter your own location), and keep an eye on your community listings for different artisan events. Visit your local Farmer's Market (listings for Ontario, Canada) to get an idea of all the great things that you can find close to home made by hands that you probably know through six degrees of seperation or less ;)
Enjoy your browsing, I hope you'll be both amazed and inspired.