Thursday, May 28, 2009

Not-just-crafting Thursdays

The NY Times recently featured an exerpt from Matthew B. Crawford's book Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work. The book has not yet hit the stands, but I plan to buy a copy when it does. I enjoyed reading the New Atlantis essay written Mr. Crawford, published in 2006; below is an exerpt:

"Hobbyists will tell you that making one’s own furniture is hard to justify economically. And yet they persist. Shared memories attach to the material souvenirs of our lives, and producing them is a kind of communion, with others and with the future. Finding myself at loose ends one summer in Berkeley, I built a mahogany coffee table on which I spared no expense of effort. At that time I had no immediate prospect of becoming a father, yet I imagined a child who would form indelible impressions of this table and know that it was his father’s work. I imagined the table fading into the background of a future life, the defects in its execution as well as inevitable stains and scars becoming a surface textured enough that memory and sentiment might cling to it, in unnoticed accretions. More fundamentally, the durable objects of use produced by men “give rise to the familiarity of the world, its customs and habits of intercourse between men and things as well as between men and men,” as Hannah Arendt says. “The reality and reliability of the human world rest primarily on the fact that we are surrounded by things more permanent than the activity by which they were produced, and potentially even more permanent than the lives of their authors.”"

As a crafter, I often find that I can purchase items at the store for much less than it costs to make them. (Granted the price of the store-bought product probably doesn't take into account externalities, fair wages, etc.) I am still willing to spend the extra money to make a handmade item. I have my reasons - not the least of which is the joy the crafting process brings to my soul. Why do you like to craft?

As for crafting news, I'm going to sew a little pencil case for a friend's daughter. Most schools in India re-open early June, and I think she'll enjoy organizing her color pencils/crayons. I'll let you know how that goes.

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