I recently found myself selling my love of craft and the handmade movement to “experts” in the field. I had to explain why I love what I do, why I think the handmade movement is important, and how I try to encourage others to embrace the handmade movement. While doing this, I realized this might be something I have taken advantage of for some time now. Maybe my reality is incorrect, maybe there are people out there who do not appreciate the handmade movement.
As an artisan and a hands-on learner, I have trouble understanding the fact that some people do not craft; they do not create. I think most people appreciate fine arts and crafts, but they might not do it. At the same time, there are some people who don’t appreciate it either. All that said, I have an increasing concern that the art of craft is disappearing. In the under-40 age group, there seems to be a decreasing number of artisans. I find myself going to craft shows where I am the youngest artisan by several years, even decades.
When they realize that I am under 40, craft show organizers have asked me what to do to get more people of my age group involved in craft shows. The first step is to get them involved in crafts in general. The kicker is, in this economy, crafts and fine arts are put on the back burner by most under 40. Their money is going to raising children and they cannot take on the financial risk of crafts, and they especially can’t take on the risk of doing it as a business.
The aging population of craft show vendors has me wondering about the future of craft shows. Will there be enough people to fill the spots as the older artisans retire? Perhaps by that point, the children of the under-40 age group will be grown and those folks will be able to move into the craft show circuit. However, what if we do not get to that point? What if they do not decide to pick up crafts as businesses?
It sounds negative, but if we don’t get to that point, then so be it; however, that should not stop anyone from trying a craft or at least appreciating and supporting the artisans who are currently out there. In a world of big-box stores and copy-cat trends, the one surefire way to set yourself apart is to have something handcrafted. Whether it’s jewelry, clothing, or the artwork in your home, it’s important to have some sort of self-expression, even if you are not the one creating it.
I grew up in a town where trends were a big deal. Having the best was important, but there was also a cult following for being different. Because of this, I find myself trying to fit into trends, but that can be stressful. Being what every one wants you to be is difficult. That’s why I craft. Yes, there are lots of jewelry artisans and sewers and yarn people out there, but each person’s style is slightly different. I make the things I do because I enjoy the art of self expression. In fact, as I write this, I have an urge to go find a funky fabric and make a unique hobo-style bag. I don’t know why, but that’s how I feel like expressing myself.
So I challenge you now. Do you craft? If so, what do you do and is it a feeling of self expression for you? If you do not craft, why not? Don’t tell me you can’t, especially if you haven’t tried. Time is an issue? Do it little by little. Learn something new. You just might surprise yourself.
Thanks for stopping by!