Sunday, January 18, 2009

Yearning for Homemade

We went browsing in stores today; stores that don't carry food, yarn, or fabric. This is a rare occurrence anymore. Since Circuit City is closing we went and browsed to see if there were any good deals. So far, not so much, although people were snapping things up at 10-30% off. I went and browsed movies and CDs and realized that anything I wanted I could download or rent from Netflix.

The funniest part about this is that I now look at the packaging for anything I buy. Any hard copy of music/movies comes with a box...a box I don't use, even for storage. We just gave away literally hundreds of jewel cases from CDs we've had for many years and store in big binders. Bless Craigslist for having someone who could reuse them. Funnily enough, we rarely listen to the CDs themselves anymore now that we have digital copies.

So ends part one of the shopping saga - I don't like shopping any more because I will have to, as responsibly as possible, dispose of yet another box of some kind.

We next went to Target while we waited for the movie to start (BTW- Quantum of Solace is an excellent Bond movie, with enough chases, crashes and intrigue for the most enthusiastic spy fan). As we walked by the children's section, a dress caught my eye. It was made of a simple checked cotton weave fabric, cut as a simple sack dress, a ruffle at the neck its only ornamentation. A yard of fabric and a couple of hours and any competent amateur seamstress could make it. And make it better - the cheapest fabric store fabric would feel higher quality, the checks would be matched at the seams, but Target is selling not just a dress. They are selling the idea of simplicity. They are marketing the warm feeling of homemade - indifferently made commercial products mimicking "homespun" through inferior products. I find it incredibly ironic that any craftswoman who takes any pride in her work would never settle for the shoddy workmanship that marks such products. Clearly, most people have forgotten (or never knew) what homemade really looked like.

It is for this reason that I've become enamored with Etsy. After opening my shop there about a month ago, I've religiously trolled the "Alchemy" portion of the site, bidding to make handmade items that people request. These people are looking for the high quality that marks truly handmade goods. They're seeking relationships. They want to talk directly to the person that sewed their little girl's new dress or knit their new sweater. I'm sure that most other sellers feel the same way I do- when we sell something there it is as personal as making a gift for a loved one. When that is the standard, only our best work will do.

That is truly handmade. I hope that those who see the ghost echo of it on Target's racks will think about what they are truly seeking when their eyes wander to that little dress. I hope they will then walk out of the store and go to the local craft fair or onto Etsy or, better yet, pull out the sewing machine and return to truly handmade.

And so ends my latest rant. :)

1 comment:

aithon said...

I think this is a really interesting idea, and one i would have been hard pressed to think of myself, because i am not familiar with what is "homemade".
However, i think there is a similar line of thinking that could be made in regard to food. Since my parents took us out to dinner nearly every night, i had very little idea of what "homecooked" was like. i think this is part of the reason why i've become fascinated with cooking, but to this day i still struggle with the difference between trying to make something that is truely "homemade"--which is that idea you are getting at here: simple, well crafted, made from items of quality--and more flashy or difficult dishes that seem more like a restaurant. i've only just recently started to realize that i don't need to do difficult techniques or have expensive ingredients in order to have good food, and in fact that almost gets in the way of the good food.
not sure if there really is a deeper point here, but i think it's still an interesting idea: we know that we are far from our roots as simple people, but what is it getting us?
thanks for the thinkings.