I never much cared for crafts growing up. It may have been my enthusiasm for the new, a want for the future and the shiny things that came with it. Though I think the more likely culprit would be the hordes of crowds brought to town by the Spoon River Drive. The first two weekends in September were always dominated by crowds, fried food, and very kitch crafts and “antiques”.
Craft was ingrained in my mind right between the overwhelming scent of potpourri and an aversion to hot glue guns. It wasn’t until late in college that I began to blur the line between craft and art. I became excited about handmade mugs and looked to furniture as something more than utility.
This exhibit tore down all but a few staunch reservations about craft. We live in a disposable culture. The practices in malls and superstores across the country tonight makes this fact rather evident. It’s rare to find handmade goods in the typical American household, when just a century ago much of what a home contained was handmade. A large portion of which was made by someone in that home.
We no longer make our own clothes and rarely repair the ones we purchase. Dishes come in packs of four and furniture comes with directions in four languages. I know only our convenience culture and am not championing an impossible turn around. But I now feel that it is important to advocate for appreciation.
Material goods have little value once they leave the store, but the sentiment a good story can add to an item is priceless. A store bought cup will at best be a label and most likely a nearly invisible item on a shelf, but the mug I found in the print studio my sophomore year, with the brown stain that just won’t wash away, that has character.
A plentiful life is rare, but so often filled with generic items. When you purchase a crafted item you’re buying more than a material good. You’re purchasing someones hard work, inspiration, and time. It will last longer than any store warranty and if you’re lucky it already comes with a story.