Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Authenticity Part 2: The Handmade Movement

Last week's thoughts on Authenticity motivated me to do more research.  I began to ask myself questions:  When exactly did the Handmade / DIY Movement begin? What started it? Is it as big as I perceive it to be?

The Do-It-Yourself mentality has been going strong for some time.  This article from the National Building Museum illustrates how both the surge in home ownership between 1890 and 1930, and a multitude of new products with step-by-step instructions in the 1950s and 1960s,  transformed hobbyists into handymen and handywomen.   Amidst the enthusiasm of DIY Home Improvement, This Old House was first broadcast in 1979.  It's popularity continues today.

This Old House is a favorite show of mine.  Watching the team progress through the home remodel is fascinating.  The crew completes each step thoroughly.  No mediocrity here.  Everything is built to last.  Local craftsmen are commissioned to fashion ironwork for balconies, repane original windows, and replace vintage trim with historically accurate pieces.  This teamwork keeps the house authentic.

I return again to authenticity and our desire for it as consumers.  We do not want the same exact thing as everyone else.  We do not want all of our purchases to be manufactured  in China.  We do not want cheaply made.  We do not want unsafe.  We do not want pesticides in our vegetables and meat that is burdened with antibiotics.  Fortunately, these opinions are prevalent.  We are doing something about it.  We are getting smarter about purchases.  We are growing our own food and supporting CSAs.  We are making. We are recycling.  We are upcycling.  We are crafting.   

Our search for the genuine, unique, or quirky has been made much more accessible by the internet.  Online marketplaces such as Etsy allow the buyer not only to purchase handmade and vintage items, but also to communicate with the creator / seller.  Artists have the opportunity through Etsy for their work to be put in front of a global audience, to make a living without the necessity of a brick and mortar shop.  Artisans are taking their own passion for authenticity, individuality, and durability, and becoming social entrepreneurs

I may not be an expert yet like Norm Abram on This Old House, but I am learning.  I am acquiring many new skills along the way.  I am making.  If something that I create with my own hands is liked enough that a person wanted to give it as a token of friendship, love, or appreciation, that is all I need to feel rewarded.

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