Finding Value in Craftmanship

In my first post about why I started this blog, kbarone0117, asks about the younger generation and wonders what happened to their interest in not only hand crafted items, but creating them as well.

I think for starters, I think we need to find value in what we do. Today, much of the craft items are mass produced, thereby devaluing what the home crafter does.  Commodization or mass production is the first step to devaluation.  To make money, there is a relationship between 1) the cost and quality of materials and 2) the time involved and the skill of the crafter.  In mass production, quality and skill are the first things to disappear in order to make money.  Automation, created by an engineer, takes over.  However, the home or small business crafter will maintain the quality and skill, but that causes many to not be able to earn a living wage.  Technology is around to enhance what and how the crafter does, but this still can be pricey.

I also think crafters today are either not understanding all the expenses they need to account for or they are deliberately undercutting their prices so their product sells. This does not serve anyone and in the end we all lose.

Also, the standard of living in this country is so high, that it takes at least 2 full-time wages to make ends meet. That means moms and dads, or even grandparents, are no longer home or nearby to teach crafts. It also says that if you do crafting, you cannot earn a decent living in this country, so give it up.

The school systems are also partly to blame. Growing up in northern NJ, I consider myself lucky to have been able to be in what used to be called “home economic” classes in junior high. I had classes in sewing, cooking, and shop for 2 years. I loved it. These classes by no means taught me anything in detail. However, they do serve to spark a student’s interest, as everything in the curriculum should. If interest is there, then there were additional classes in high school that could be taken. Today, these classes are no longer taught. Fabric shops are no longer found in North Jersey. One must travel to Southern Jersey or Pennsylvania to find quality fabrics and threads or look online.

So where did I get my interest in embroidery?   It was actually Mrs. Reeds art class. It wasn’t much of an embroidery piece, but my parents had it framed and hanging up in the kitchen for the longest time.  And alas, this is not what I went to college for.  I studied accounting and computer science so I could earn that living.

So my readers, what do you think?

  • How do we find value in our craftsmanship?
  • Do we need more respect for crafters?
  • Is it the tastes of potential buyers of what has being crafted?
  • Has there ever been a time down through the ages where such craftsmanship was had value?  Or is only for the well off to purchase and the lower classes to produce?

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