As I sip some Golden Phoenix Oolong this morning, I’m musing over a quality, hand-finished keychain curated by my friends at Huckberry. There’s a real boom going on these days in handcrafted goods. I’m not just talking about funky, craftsy things you find on Etsy. I’m talking about incredibly beautiful, well-made, durable, traditionally crafted goods.
Seriously, who would’ve thought a perfectly crafted ax would be cool, or a wallet, or a pocket knife? Such boring utilitarian items end up becoming absolute works of art, whether it’s a pair of shoes, an apron, or even tea.
I find myself pretty much a minimalist. But on the other hand, I’ve become totally captivated by this cool new genre of handcrafted goods. And it’s not just me. A whole industry has popped up to fill the demand for artisanal products.
Today perhaps more than ever before, we’ve become disconnected with how things are made. We end up living our entire lives from the neck up, and the only things we make with our our hands are emails. We no longer mend shoes, cure hides, ferment pickles, or carve wood. We’ve abandoned art in favor of convenience.
Things aren’t getting better just because they’re getting faster and cheaper. In many cases, the opposite is true. Enjoying a slow meal with good friends can be more enriching than scarfing down dinner by yourself. When you hold our handmade Wabi Sabi teacup and feel its texture, weight, and balance, you can tell it’s different than something mass-produced.
In an age where everything we eat, wear, and surround ourselves with is getting cheaper and more generic, people are craving products with character. Soul. Connection.
Are handmade goods cheap? I don’t know, what do you define as cheap? Yes, $8 may be an exorbitant price for a chocolate bar when you can get one for a tenth of the price at a national chain store.
But when you look at the heart, passion, and effort that went into an unforgettable piece of chocolate crafted by a team that sources the highest quality cocoa beans from small farms around the world, meticulously hand-crafting small batches using traditional techniques, versus something that has been pumped out of a factory and made with filler ingredients that aren’t even chocolate…you tell me, what’s a bargain and what’s a rip-off?
A quality, hand-crafted product is a work of art. Even if you never meet the artisan who made the product you purchase, you’re the beneficiary of the life, sweat, passion, and years of experience they pour into the product. Knowing that someone, perhaps not that far away, has literally or figuratively left their fingerprints on the product you’re holding in your hands connects you to them. And that connection makes us more human.