My name is Anne-Claire Regan and I am known as "Hibou" ("eeboo" = "owl" in French) from HibouDesigns.
All our members in the PlushTeam are encouraged to write a blog post on their birthday month and December is my month!
I will not bore you by telling you how old I am but I will share with you something that has been very important to me ever since I started making hand sewn plush dolls and art. I want to talk about the love and care behind "handmade" objects and what moves me/us to do what I/we do.
With the Holiday season we have all been very busy with making and making and making, for both our shops and craft shows.
This is the time in our "crafty world" when we usually start hearing more or less "gentle rants" about how our customers perceive and appreciate (or not) what we do.
I think I can safely say we all feel pretty lucky to be able to do what we do and that all of us at the Plushteam do it with tremendous love and passion. As a consequence it stings a little bit when we hear negative comments about our work.
Not that we can't take criticism but it seems that a lot of those negative comments I hear related by my fellow crafters are mostly rooted in the misunderstanding of what it takes to literally make something with your hands, of how much time, effort, love and consideration goes into "handmade".
Whether it's asking for deep discounts or wanting something handmade to look like it's been made by a machine, the reality is that those comments often hurt us: "It hurts my feelings, it hurts the handmade community, it hurts handmade as a movement in general." as Liz from Made in Lowell said in a blog post last year called "Paying for Handmade: A gentle Rant".
Her post went viral then and again this year after it was dug out by Mimi Kirchner (a fellow crafter and New Englander like me who is part of the Boston Crafty Biz Google group).
I missed the post last year so I was happy to discover it on the group's online forum this year. It so perfectly described my feelings on the subject that I felt compelled to share it with my fellow Plushteamers and with all of you followers of the team's blog.
Since I am not as articulate as Liz I will just leave you with another quote from her post and hope you will follow the link, read the whole thing and pass it along to everyone you know!
Here is how she beautifully talks about what we do as crafters and how/why we do it:
[…] "You do not have to buy anything we make!But when you do, you support an idea, a lifestyle, art.
You infuse your home with warmth and meaning when you hang that art on your wall or drink out of that hand-thrown mug.
You perpetuate a world where objects exist that weren't made by underpaid workers in third world countries to line the pockets of corporate CEOs.
Well, I don't have to tell you. You know all this. But there are people out there who don't. I don't think it's their fault really. I think they were indoctrinated in Target and WalMart culture because those corporations have very loud voices.
Even though I have been a maker all my life, I didn't start to feel queasy about buying mass-produced things until I really got into selling on Etsy and meeting other makers in the community. Of course I'm not out buying artisanal washing machines, I still shop from corporations. But not gifts. I try to make or buy handmade for giving. " […]
To conclude my post, and since this is a "gentle" rant, I would also like to say that more often than not I, personally, have been blessed with absolutely amazing customers (some of whom became friends) who truly love buying handmade and who understand and promote the world of handmade.
There is no denying that the understanding and support for "Handmade" has increased a lot in the past few years but it cannot hurt to continue to put the word out there and show people what we are all about as artists and makers.
I think there is room for both "handmade" and "mass-produced" items in this world. We just need to understand what both mean and "gently" make sure that the big guys don't walk all over the small ones.
I think speaking up helps.
Happy crafting and a very Happy Holiday Season to you all!
Anne-Claire aka Hibou