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November 03, 2009


S. M. Hoffmann

This discussion makes me think of Kamikaze Girls, in which the main character is a supremely gifted embroiderer. After she decorates one beautiful dress for her favorite designer, she declines his job offer. She explains that she would rather buy than make beautiful clothes, because it's a "more extravagant lifestyle."


Cathy, you are running around with the wrong crowd. Or perhaps I am - but in the US it is easy to find large groups of people - womens and men - who are reclaiming the handmade as self-expression, countercultural protest, and a way to add personality and whimsey - to life, and to embue objects with a story beyond "Target was having a sale".

There's a movement away from the cultural cringe, with its own aestetic values, tracts (Make magazine) saints (Kate Gilbert, a creator of knitting patterns) web international meetinghouses (Etsy, craftster, Ravelry, Knitty) and local cells (Charm City Craft Mafia, Maker Faire, Crafty Bastards, and nearly every cafe and bookstore, where people gather on some weeknight to create and gab with like-minded amatuers.

I myself have only made one wedding present.

There's also a bridge that blurs the lines between amatuer and professional - Etsy.com. Where you can PURCHASE amatuer goods of all sorts.

I think the web - and the way that I can "meet" thousands of likeminded amatuers and see what they've been working on, all from the comfort of my bed - has brought amatuerism into it's own.

Have you see the film Coraline? A thoroughly professional production, to be sure, but every frame is full of handmade beauty. When I saw it, I scrawled the words "Etsy aestetic" on my hand.

Mummy Zen

An interesting article and I think you are right. Is it also the issue of time that stops people trying out amateur pursuits? In a world where we can pretty much get what we want immediately, do people think they don't have time to make things or that by the time they've started to assemble something, they could have just gone and bought it (and therefore saved time)? Of course it's spending time on something and getting lost in time working on a pursuit that is part of the enjoyment I think.

I've only just come across The School of Life blog but am glad I did - some great reading here.

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