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A Year of Handmade

April 25, 2011

While I’ve already kind of cheated (more about that in a post later this week), my Year of Handmade has already begun to alter the way I think and behave.

When I need something, my first response has typically been ‘Where can I get one of those?’ That has been changing over the past few years, but there are times I need something, or think I ‘need’ something, and I don’t even give it a second thought. Making the decision to do this Year of Handmade has called attention to my rote behavior, and I’m beginning to realize a few things:

  •  People make just about anything you’d need. This week I found myself running to the mall to buy a shaving brush & soap for my husband and a new nose ring. In both cases I realized mid-shopping, that I could probably buy these handmade by someone. So I went home and, sure enough, on etsy I found Dirty Deeds Soap and kr design.
  • If someone doesn’t make it, someone will tell YOU how to make it. Seeds have been planted in the garden, and while I love the way we’ve designed the garden beds, I didn’t put much thought into how it might be difficult to drag the hose between beds without destroying everything in it’s path. I couldn’t find any hose guides that were both pretty and in my price range, but I did find a few tutorials that inspired me to make my own. This one is pretty fun. A google search will always reveal resources, but I generally start my DIY searches at I don’t think I’ve ever started a project, or done research out of curiosity, that I haven’t been able to find ample information on. That’s one of the things I love about the DIY and crafting communities- people are typically willing and excited to share what they know with others.
  • Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do or Do Without. This week I had two pair of pants that got holes in them. One, irreparable, got tossed. The other was a pair of black leggings. I’ve become attached to the ‘leggings-and-baggy-shirt-dress’ trend to the extent that I’m starting to wonder why I would ever wear something that didn’t have an elastic waistband (I know, I know). And the one pair of leggings I own had a hole in them. My first reaction was, ‘Ugh. I’m going to have to make a new pair!’ In an effort to save myself the money and hassle, I looked a little closer and figured out how I could patch them up and keep wearing them.   As I have begun to make more and more of the things I use, now including all clothing and, as the garden grows, food, it’s made me much more aware of the energy, effort, creativity, time, labor, resources- the life- it takes to produce all of the items I use on a daily basis. I have begun to wonder how my consumption and wasteful behaviors would change if I had to play a bigger part in the production of these things. Would I use as much sugar if I had to grow the cane and harvest it? Would I discard a pair of socks as quickly if I were the one that knit them, or would I patch them? Would I let food go to waste in the refrigerator if I had grown it and couldn’t depend on farmers and grocery stores to provide access for me, or would I figure out a way to use every last piece? Do I really need a new pair of shoes to wear to that wedding (because I really don’t want to have to figure out how to make that) or can I just wear a pair I already have?

So far, I feel like this project is making me more the person I want to be. I enjoy that I am coming to value the life that other people put into producing the items I own and use, whether it’s the laborers on the tomato farm, or the folks at Dirty Deeds Soap, and I’m glad that I am giving myself the chance to put some of my own life into the things I am making and using.

PS- My husband says that using the Dirty Deeds soap & brush in combination with our safety razor is the closest shave he’s ever had. He can’t wait to shave which, if you know my husband, you know that’s a huge deal. HUGE.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Soraya Allies permalink
    April 26, 2011 12:04 am

    Wow Alicia! You really know how to inspire someone to use handmade things. I am that person you don’t want to be. I depend on what’s in the stores and if its not there go to another one. I never stop to think if I can make it at home. So from now on I will TRY to do that.

    You are right, I will think twice about throwing something away if I made it. Goodluck to you on your journey and I hope I will adopt that habit.

    Missing you!

    P.S. Did you get the voice message I left for Ezra James? 🙂

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