|An example of homemade charm. Don't get attached! Being ripped out as we speak!|
My watershed moment came when I started buying handmade things from etsy (when I had money. Violins) and realised they were just better. I don’t mean this in an anti-consumerist, dignity-of-craft kind of way, I mean it just in really shallow terms. If I bought handmade I got miles better quality, unusual, effective things that I loved and enjoyed using, and which made the things I bought on the high street seem, well, a bit crap. And when you have had good quality things, you start to think, why should I pay what is after all only a bit less for a High Street something which has been produced in really questionable conditions and which I don’t like as much? Aren’t I worth more than that? So then I started making my own things because I was interested to see what it was realistically possible to integrate the making of into your life, and I discovered that actually some things (like soap) that I assumed before could only be made through a vast scary industrial process were actually really simple to produce at home and knocked anything L'Oreal could make into a cocked hat.
So now I have read books and poked my nose into things, and I can do the politics of why small production and handmade is good, and why big businesses don’t always act ethically and what should be done, and that kind of thing, but really, I just still come back to my first impression. I’ve always found handmade things to be just better, in a cheerful, life-enriching way, and that is why I make my own or buy handmade when I can. Otherwise, frankly, I wouldn’t be as motivated. I mean, obviously there’d still be the same arguments for, say, why Tesco shouldn’t be allowed to expand unchecked, if they still had all the same crappy business practices but they produced food that was like the nectar of the Gods: but for me the most effective argument is, if I make a scone myself it will be light, fresh, delicious and satisfying, whereas if I buy one from Tesco it will not. It will be a strange simulacrum that will leave me unsatisfied and will probably make me keep eating because I’m not full from a satisfying meal. And why should I have a nasty scone rather than a nice one? Don’t I merit a nice scone? (Is that the worst anti-Tesco rallying cry ever? Let’s never put it on a tshirt).
In fact, if I was cynical, I would say that this is how consumerism works, we’re sold things that are never quite right and because they are so unsatisfying we keep on buying more until we run out of money or end up on Hoarders. But obviously, as you know, I do not have a cynical bone in my body, so I just cook and knit and make cosmetics, whether it is unpowerful or unfeminist or not, and I enjoy all my stuff more than if I were buying it. In fact that’s the final irony in a way: all of us breaking our necks and ruining the planet to get Money to buy Stuff and then it’s just a mass-produced simulacrum of a satisfying thing and we could just have made it ourselves and it would have been better and more fun.
What do you think? Is handmade better or is this a slippery slope which will end in me making my own knickers and boasting about it? (I do actually make my own knickers. And they’re very comfy! OK, things are worse than I ever suspected).