If you've traipsed anywhere near the big E site these past few days, you surely spotted the craziness going on over there. I have not dipped my toes into commenting anywhere over there because it just seems that anything said, good or bad, becomes fighting words.
I do however feel that there needs to be safe places to discuss the issue at hand because it applies to more than the one in question. Many more shops that don't really fit the rules, but seem to keep being ignored.
So here are my thoughts on the issue of Handmade.
Personally I've always felt that there is a large gray area when it comes to the craft/art world and that setting down hard and fast rules on the subject is like nailing down silk on a windy day. You need lots of hands in the mix.
The specific charm on a chain argument is the hardest because while someone new to creating jewelry might be extremely excited that they made something so pretty from materials that they spent time scouring the isles for the components of, another who's been creating with jewelry pieces (or scratch metal supplies!) for much longer will often scoff at such items. Nothing to it, right?
While it's true that there isn't much in the creation of that specific type of item (and if you toss a pile of those exact supplies in the table 9/10 will come up with the same exact design) it may just be the step that causes that person to seek out how to do more intricate things, to learn how to create things all their own. It may well just be the step that sends a creative muse flying of and an up and coming artist may bloom from just such a venture.
Now obviously (to me at least) if a shop is nothing but repetitive charms on chains (meaning that the same ones used over and over as well as nothing more than simple charms on chains) then the seller isn't branching out, isn't trying to create but rather mass producing because perhaps they sold one or two and decided it wasn't too hard to do and the model obviously works for them. That doesn't make them a re-seller or even a mass production company, this just makes them a person in a slump or who's just trying to make a quick buck off something that worked once or twice.
In the same way I do not lump artists and who photographers who outsource their prints to someone else as re-sellers. Most of these are actually working with their print shop to make sure that the prints come out with the correct colors and finish. It's expensive to own a print shop and not something every single artist can do. It needs to also be taken into consideration that it's hard to sell paintings on canvas online due to shipping costs. Thus the inclusion of prints.
I don't think that Handmade means that I have to have chopped down the tree, milled the wood myself and then created the table from it, however purchasing a kit of wooden shapes that much like a puzzle fit together a certain way is not my definition of handmade.
When it comes to the term Collective I think that is a much easier term to write a definition for. A Collective to me is a group of artists that create in a group setting. Even if they are not always creating in the same room/home there is no boss. Perhaps John makes the wooden step stools and Patty paints them with decorative patterns and names and Jim their son does the shipping for them. No one is the boss in this situation, they are all working together to make things work. I can even see this working in a longer distance situation. Joan owns a farm where she keeps sheep that she collects the wool from, cleans and dyes it creating beautiful fibers. She ships the wool(and lists a certain amount to sell) to Amy who then spins and knits with the wool. She does the shipping out of orders herself from there. They have a collective shop that sells all forms of the wool creations from the farm. Joan sells the wool and ships from her home, Amy sells the spun yarn as well as the created items from said yarns and ships those products from her end.
I'd love to hear what any one thinks on the issue.
*Oh and I'll be posting a fun post on the EK Success and Craft Gossip Fork and Talk today or tomorrow, but I've got to get some pictures off my camera first!There will be a give away associated with that post, so be sure to check back!