Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Never-Ending Discussion: Is It Handmade?

I'm a lover of all things handmade...  from the simplest crocheted bookmark to the most intricate oil-on-canvas, and everything in between.  All artisans and crafters, regardless of medium, use tools.  Jewelers use saws and rock tumblers, potters use wheels, painters use brushes, metalsmiths use hammers and grinders....  In my case, my major tools are scissors, needle, thread and my sewing machine.  I am occasionally told, that because I use a sewing machine, I cannot say that my work is handmade - only because one of my tools is electric.

Here is my sewing machine - an eight-year-old, low-end Singer.  It's an absolutely wonderful and reliable tool.

Now, anyone who is familiar with this kind of machine knows full well that if your two hands - and in this case, also a foot - aren't involved with it's use, nothing happens.  It takes the user's hands to use the tool to attach two pieces of fabric together.  In my case, that would be appliqué.  This tool was designed to sew in straight or near-straight lines.  I've been able to master the task of making this tool sew in curves and sometimes even in circles.  But again, without my hands involved in the process, the tool just sits there.

My argument is this - my quilts are completely handmade.  Like any other artist or crafter, I use tools - some of which are powered.  There are no hands-free steps in my work.  Just like the jeweler using an electrical tumbler for stones, the painter who's tool is an airbrush, the metalsmith using an air-powered grinder, or the potter using an electric wheel, my hands/heart/brain and even soul are involved every step of the way. 

What do you think?

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