Yesterday I spent an hour or so visiting some Charity shops in Devizes, Wiltshire just because I love having a look through all the nick knacks. I came across a beautiful tapestry, in a wooden frame and under glass, it was approximately 2 feet long by 18 inches deep and the price being asked was just five pounds. I was very tempted to buy it as the work had been executed very nicely, the subject was of two thatched cottages, colourful garden and some ducks which was so pretty but I didn't buy it as I have no where to hang it. It's just that I keep thinking about all the time, love, effort, experience and thought and has gone into that beautiful piece and now it's offered for such a nominal price, especially when it was donated to raise money for a good cause.
As crafters/ artists/ makers ...what ever you like to call yourself...we all know that we never get rewarded for the time we put into our creations, I mean how could I spend twenty plus hours knitting a scarf for example and then ask for twenty times six (20 hrs x £6per hour) plus the materials, plus overheads as I would need to ask in the region of £130 for a hand knitted scarf. No one would buy it. No, that's not strictly true. A number of people can afford too but I know that I don't market my products in the right place to attract them.
Sadly in the UK it does appear that hand crafted equates in the mindset to the ordinary person in the street that it means 'homemade' 'hobbyist''oddball' 'car boot' and 'jumble sale'.
The other thing I notice too is that so much of the 'handmade' items on the likes of Folksy, Misi and Etsy to name just three of the many online selling venues, well they're not truly 'handmade'. They are mass produced charms, beads, chains, pins, embellishments etc which have been cobbled together and then described as handmade. Of course someone has had to buy the charm, the locket, the piece of chain, the key ring or whatever it may be and then connect it by hand to another similar piece but is this really what we value as handmade these days? I see so many pieces of jewellery which are made like this and people will spend good money on them and yet they don't seem to understand that the person who has painted a beautiful work of art, embroidered (by hand, not machine) a towel band or a little girls' dress or a picture, like the one I mention from the Charity shop, or crocheted a garment or someone who has thrown a pot beautifully and hand painted the glaze on with a natural flair......all of these things get put to the bottom of the pile. All of these are true skills, 'Craftsmanship' which are way, way undervalued and are being lost by generation upon generation. Come the middle of this Century my guess is the charity shops will be full of Junk jewellery and not a lot else.