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My Own Little Handmade Revolution

March 15, 2011

Ginger & Peach Jam handmade by friends and shared with us. MUY delicioso.

Now that I have been settled back into the US for eight months now and the dust has begun to settle, I am starting to realize that I am returning a very different person than the one that left. Of course there are the more profound changes-the ways my soul/heart/mind will never be the same, but there is also this funny little handmade revolution that sneaked up on my while I too busy having fun making stuff. I’ve been wondering where it came from, and while I feel like this peaceful revolution played out while I was in South Africa, it might have some roots in earlier life too:

  • My parents never payed anybody to do anything for them. They figured out how to do anything on their own and always made it happen. Why would you pay an electrician to rewire your 100-year old farmhouse if you can check out a book at the library and figure out how to do it on your own? Never mind that we might blow out the generators for the entire county
  • Then I became more aware of what was in my food, make-up, medicine, house cleaning supplies, toothpaste…you name it. I probably have my husband to thank, as he has been allergic to artificial flavors, colors and preservatives since childhood, thus once we were married I became a label reader. I started to realize my food was full of lots of stuff I probably didn’t want to put in my body, so with a new awareness and an attitude of learning we started to buy as much organic and all-natural as possible. However, we’ve repeatedly been employed in those change the world/low pay jobs which tend to make it difficult to support this lifestyle. So, while reading a label in the all-natural grocers one day, I thought to myself, with hauntingly familiar words, “I can make this! Why should I pay someone else to do it?”
  • And then began my love-affair with blogs. As I tried to figure out exactly how to make my own homemade toothpaste, I began finding all of these lovely ladies all over the world that were making things by hand. Beautiful things. They were knitting, sewing, cooking, growing, concocting…and they were sharing with others how they did it. I was so encouraged to see other people living this way and I began following their tutorials, reading the books they suggested and learning how to do these things for myself. After my first batch of homemade shaving cream I was hooked.
  • I had the luxury of time when we were living in South Africa. Being away from the busyness of the United States gave me time to better realize what some of my passions were. I had time to dabble in different things and learn them- even perfect them. Nurtured, my creative soul began to come alive. And before I knew it the creativity that had been a hobby previously dabbled in was a way of life lived out.

Along the way one skill was added to another and a gradual but profound shift in my perspective occurred. I loved using, giving away and wearing things I had made. And I wanted to support others who were making things by hand too. I wanted them to have the luxury of time to be able to make beautiful, useful things.

But then I moved back to the US, the land of Target (oh, Target!), and Forever 21, Claire’s… Mass produced, trendy items that are cheaply priced!? What is a girl to do? Buy everything in sight, of course. Why should I spend hours making something when I could pay someone else to do it and have it immediately?

After a recent trip to the sale section at Old Navy I was showing my purchases to my husband and I felt little pangs of sadness in my heart. What about all of those little making dreams and ideas I had? And my desire to support others as they make things? I realized that I didn’t have any sense of pride or accomplishment in what I was wearing, using or giving as gifts, and I missed it. I wanted to take a more active role- I didn’t want to merely consume, I wanted to create.

So, I’m thinking of committing for the next year to making, or buying handmade, anything that I will wear/accessorize/decorate with. All those dollars previously spent on a whim at Target will be used to buy supplies, or set aside for a more considered and fulfilling purchase of a handmade item.

So, what do you think? Do you think I should jump in? Do you think it’s possible? Have you ever set a goal along these lines?

PS- Somewhat related: craft night is coming. Dates and times TBA soon. Can anyone think of a crafty name for a crafty night?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Anne Walker permalink
    March 15, 2011 4:14 pm

    I love this. I fully encourage you to take on the challenge and not let go of the passion that was stirred up in you in S. Africa. Especially because I think it’s a great idea but don’t think I would have the discipline to do it myself. If anyone does have the disciple it’s you. I want to hear more if you decide to take this on.


    • March 16, 2011 8:37 pm

      Ha! I’m glad you think that I have that much discipline! Just in the things I enjoy…so then is it still actually discipline? Or just fun? Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Soraya Allies permalink
    March 23, 2011 2:46 am

    Sorry for the late reply but I think you can totally do it! You are the type of person who decides on something and does it. I know you can do it. So believe in yourself and make us proud. Just because you are back in the US doesn’t mean you have to be a different person. Stay the sweet, caring, considerate, loving person you’ve always been.

    I don’t know if craft night has passed already but you could just make the name good.home.made with wire and beads like they do in SA:-)

    Hope it helps. Mwah!


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