Automation has made it possible to produce so many objects — from bread to shoes — without the intervention of human hands (assuming that pressing a button doesn’t count). What things do you still prefer in their traditional, handmade version?
Just outside of my son’s karate class is a small shop. It’s usually only opened on the weekends as it is run by a small group of volunteers, so for every Saturday class, I make sure I bring my wallet. The shop is filled with nothing but handmade items (everything from jewelry to scarves, tablecloths to money pouches, and even hand carved animals made from wood). Well, each item comes with a tag that tells the story of who made it and where the item was made. The elephant tablecloth I recently purchased was made in Ghana by a group of women trying to better their lives. In Ghana, they get $2.00 a day for their hard work. But through this organization, they are getting what they deserve. For example: the tablecloth probably took them several hours, if not days to make, and had they sold it there, they might have gotten $4.00 for it. However, by sending it to this organization, the woman who made it received $45 for it. She can do a lot more with $45.00 than she can with $4.00. I’m a sucker for anything handmade. So many people are so fascinated by these assembly line, automated productions. I couldn’t care less. When you get anything handmade, whether it’s from Ghana or a sweater hand knitted from your grandmother, there’s a certain feeling you get when you touch it. It’s almost as though you can feel the hard work that went into making such an item. I prefer handmade over automation any day!! Automation is fast, easy money. Handmade is one of a kind. Even if this woman in Ghana made 50 tablecloths with elephants on them, no two are exactly alike, which makes each one individual…unique. So, this Saturday, I plan to purchase a new money pouch for my son (he lost his original at school) and I know I’ll see something else I like. And I’ll know when I get it home that no one on this earth has an exact replica. We also picked up these beaded Dragonflies, as a symbol of mother and son (my son’s idea). Their work is truly beautiful, isn’t it? And knowing that the money is going to a good cause (woman working their butts off to better their life in a poor economy as opposed to someone pushing a button in the hopes of being laid off so they don’t have to work and can collect unemployment) makes us both feel better as we leave the shop with our purchases for the day.