ANZ's Farms

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lost Arts (and Crafts)

A friend and I participated in a local Craft Fair last weekend. We peddled our wares -- crocheted scarves and trivets, goats milk soap and body wash, beeswax lip balm and candles, and honey. We had a good time and a profitable day. I was delighted when one of Saturday's customers called me Monday ... she was so pleased with the soap she purchased that she placed an order for more to give as Christmas gifts.

And this brings me to an observation that saddens me ... handmade crafts are becoming a lost art. As I walked the isles of the fair, I noticed that at least half the venders there were selling commercial products such as Tupperware, childrens' books, (not handmade) jewelry and pre-packaged foods. As an isolated incident, I might be hasty to conclude that this represents a decline in homemade arts. But this observation came on the heels of a startling discovery earlier in the week at a craft store. The friendly young check-out lady asked me about the project for which I was buying yarn. When I told her it was to finish the afghan I am crocheting for my husband, she mentioned she had just taken up crocheting. She is working on a granny squares afghan started by the great-grandmother for whom she is named. She indicated she is having trouble and lamented she did not have anyone to help her when she got stuck. I commented that surely someone at work could help her. To my surprise, she said she was the only one at the store who crocheted. This was further confirmed by the sign I had seen in the yarn department: "Crochet instructor needed". I would have thought crocheters were a dime a dozen!

The questions to ponder: Are the knowledge and skills required for handmade arts and crafts worth saving? What value do they have today when beautiful and functional products are available for alot less time and effort at the local Target?

I'm not sure I know the right answers. Maybe there is not one right answer. Maybe each person answers those questions for themselves. I, for one, am glad the generations before me kept the homemade arts alive so that I had the option to choose. I may be archaic and even a little obsolete, but there may be one person in the next generation who benefits from the ministrations I enjoy. I hope she finds me. On second thought, maybe she already has. I'll go back to the store today and offer my help to the friendly young check-out lady.

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