Thursday, June 5, 2008

What If Machines Had Hands

Handmade versus manufactured, it's John Henry versus the steam hammer. One has a soul and the other is cost efficient and creates a reliable quality level with a reputation, brand familiarity and accountability. Are you starting to see why people may be a bit wary of the goods you create in your craft room with no quality control? Clearly I support the handmade community, I am of course part of it, but I also love the reliability of many companies goods. I like to know that quality is consistent with every bottle of shampoo or pair of jeans I buy. I am also not rich by any stretch of the imagination so I need a good deal.

I think a lot of us struggle with this dynamic. We want to buy handmade, but we can't often justify the cost of doing so. There is also very few guarantees with handmade, for every piece or product that has high quality craftsmanship, there are dozens of others that appear to have been created by a five year old. For example, wire wrapping at it's finest is gorgeous metal swirls draped around beautiful stones in a fluid and clearly artistic way and it's most basic, it's glass beads coiled with wire in no discernible pattern to form a colorful if not comfortable ring. I apologize to wire ring lovers, but I just don't get them.

Now, I get handmade and even I have a problem buying it for many products, so you've got to imagine that the general public has got to work through some prejudices before jumping on board. I think most people don't mind buying handmade as long as they are getting fine craftsmanship and they don't mind buying manufactured if they feel the company has fair business practices. I guess what it really comes down to, is everyone is different. We all let many different factors determine our buying habits. Some people love owning one of a kind pieces and won't let price get in the way of that. While others just what what everyone else has and still others won't spend a dime more on anything regardless of quality.

You can't change everyone's mind about handmade. We can, however, expose people to the option and by making quality goods, we can win over those people who are on the fence. Maybe I will buy some handmade shampoo soon, know of any good ones?

Challenge Update: We have five participants on board so far, they are listed in this forum thread:


Grizzly Mountain Arts said...

It's very difficult to sell high end handmade pieces for the price that's deserved. Once in a while it does happen and it's a great feeling :) Your tatting is gorgeous! Your tatting challenge is such a great idea! Thanks so much for the lovely comment left on our blog. It was greatly appreciated :)

Ivy & Mae said...

I think you make very good points. Consistancy in product is a huge part of branding, you gotta stand out and be nail-on, very important!