Me Made MAD!

Have you seen the New York Times opinion piece about handmade by Emily Matchar?


and the rebuttal from Craftivisim’s Betsy Greer?

(you go girl!)

I have a few thoughts, too. 

+ What’s up with all this Etsy and other commercial, corporate places to sell stuff? People make things all the time without a thought of selling what they make, you know. Radical thought: you need something you do not have, you make it, you use it. People have been doing it since the cave times!

+ Buying is not going to save the world, period. We need to consume much, much, much less if we are going to heal even a fraction of what we have massively messed up on This Green Earth.

+ Home sewn dresses as a universal symbol of poverty in the past is absolutely ridiculous. Every child, as part of growing up and discovering the bigger world wants to expand their horizons and try things that are different from what they know. The storebought dress is my boxed macaroni and cheese — my grandmother cooked from scratch always and I had never tried any processed convenience food growing up. When I moved out of my house, the first thing I did was buy a box of macaroni and cheese, prepare it, and eat the whole thing! The dazzle was brief. Shortly after that I started making macaroni and cheese from scratch (and though I know little about Loretta Lynn, I bet she had custom hand made stage costumes and not store bought once she was out in the world!).

+ Your actions (and purchases) can support the status quo, make things better, or make things worse. No purchases are in a vacuum so of course they matter! If I decide not to have a car and not even to know how to drive — of course it matters. It does make things better. If I decide to eat meat three times a day of course it matters — it makes things worse. 

+ I find it very ironic that she talks about Etsy-ers burning out stitiching iPod cases for 16 hours a day in the same article where she praises the economy of scale in factory work. Human beings work the machinery in factories too – duh! Is it ok for factory workers to be bored out of their skull but not middle class Etsy sellers?

I’ll leave you with this quote:

“Every man-made thing, be it a chair, a text, or a school, is thought made substance. It is the expression of someone’s, or some groups, ideas and beliefs. The two-hundred year old double hung, six light sash window in the wall opposite my desk, out of which I am looking at this moment embodies ideas about houses and how we should live in them, tools, technologies, standards of craftsmanship, nature and much else. It is a material manifestation of the collective consciousness of its time and place channeled through the individuals who commissioned and made it”.”  — Peter Korn, from Why We Make Things and Why It Matters

What do you think?

(image: knitting needles I made from elk bone. I make the things that help me make the things 🙂 


  1. She’s an idiot. Does she really think buying a dress at WalMart is an ethically sound choice?Pah!

  2. Bravo! Her article failed for me because she focussed on the economy being the route to changing the world. Your comments work for me because you take economy out of the picture and, shock horror, you stress that we need to consume a LOT less.

    Making our own will never be the whole picture, but making to meet our needs (even making the tools to allow us to make, how empowering is that) slashes what we need to consume (whether for physical survival, social wellbeing or for self-affirmation). It also recalibrate our awareness about what is real, quality and responsible!

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