"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet..." Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare
In the traditional sense of the word what I do is called crafting. Except, that word has come to encompass anything handmade. For me, craft implies not only handmade, but made by an artisan. Somebody who has honed their skills to be good at their 'craft'.
Alexandra Lange in an article in the New York Times called, "Don't Put a Bird on it: Saving 'Craft' from Cuteness" reviews the recent tv show Craft Wars and the phenomena that lead to its creation. Lange states,
"Craft used to mean something, and it would never have been made with Mod Podge*. You can buy a tea towel with the William Morris quotation, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” (It is a hundred per cent linen, so it is both.) What Morris, a designer, entrepreneur, futurist, and leader of the late nineteenth century Arts and Crafts Movement, proposed was a return to the medieval craft tradition, in which objects were made by hand by skilled workmen, and priced accordingly...Reformers like Morris proposed that we live with less, but better, much as the unconsumption movement does today."I love the D.I.Y. movement and I love the fact that people are getting their hands dirty and learning new skills and making new things. What Lange points out is that it needs to be coupled with the unconsumption movement. Unfortunately Craft Wars invites you to consume products to make some more (arguably) useless products.
For example, I needed a television stand and I could have gone to some big box store and picked one up, but I went down the street to the antique store and found a gorgeous Danish teak television stand**. It is beautifully crafted and something that I will have for years to come. I had to make the decision though to look for something that I loved, as opposed to buying something to make do. Buy what you love and make what you love.
* I do have a fondness for mod podge, but in moderation!
**Oh, and I did look around first at local designers and also on Etsy for a television stand. Unfortunately most of them were too big. The only spot for the tv was a very narraw wall between the bathroom and kitchen. I did find a beautiful reclaimed cypress wood headboard on Etsy, but I'll save that for another post.