Thursday, February 22, 2007

Handmade - the heirlooms of the future

I recently heard about "The Compact" an environmental movement that started in San Francisco . In order to combat rampant consumerism Compacters vow that for one year they will not buy anything new.

The Compacter's blog is full of interesting issues about consumerism, from the ethics of having pets to questions of shipping secondhand goods across the country versus buying local. I think these are really hard questions and often wonder how does craft and in particular making pots fit into the ethos of consumerism?

Consumers are my bread and butter- if it wasn't for people wanting beautiful, handmade things I wouldn't be able to pursue my profession and put my rather specialized skills to use. I think all craft guerillas should espouse a craft guerilla version of compacting- buying household goods and presents handmade locally rather than dropping in to Ikea or a department store. If everyone replaced their broken coffee cups with locally produced ware and bought their wedding gifts from local jewellers , local economies would benefit . You would save money on petrol, and add to your local skills and "creative capital".

What can we call the movement to buy local, handmade products and shun foreign imported ones? Rather than "Compacting " I see this movement as an expansion, a connection with real people, not factories, a way to appreciate the time it takes to create the things we use everyday. Thoughtful consumerism.

I love handmade things and mostly try to support those I know and who live locally, but supporting interstate and international handmakers is also important. I think the main thing is to buy infrequently and for posterity. Handmade items are the heirlooms of the future.

Absolutley beautiful handprinted fabric by Australian artist Julie Patterson for her company "Cloth". Based in Sydney.


Yellis said...

Hi Shannon,

A very interesting addition to your blog and very timely. I struggle with this issue in every aspect of my life. Living where we do, everything is imported, food, clothing, craft, very very little is local-made. Ikea does a roaring trade.
When we were in the UK for last summer we swore to buy only local food produce if we could. I'm very happy to say that in most cases, for food anyway, we were able to buy literally from the farm door. I did not set food in a "Supermarket" for three months.
It was a wonderful experience and one I hope to reproduce when we move back to Oz.
In my mind Globalisation is not a good thing. We need to get back to our roots. Produce local, buy local, support our communities.
I want to see the butcher, baker and porcelain maker.........


Uschi said...

Good Morning to me, good evening to you,
reading your words I recognize a living that is full of sensorical awareness: seeing, tasting, for the things around you....and there is room for everything, because there is not to much of.....
The other variation is to live in a
way that is exchangeable: you can't find yourself in all the stuff around you.
The first one needs some tea....
The second one needs a beautiful handmade mug and is happy about the tea he finds inside.
I don't think you can live this black or white but it's so useful to struggle!

whitney smith said...

hello Shannon,
This is an issue I think about a lot-- my husband is a dedicated non-consumer of "stuff". He will spend days combing craisglist for a couch rather than even think of stepping foot in Ikea. I have the same ideal but can be a bit lazy about it too... sometimes going to Ikea is so much easier. But I consider it one of my missions to educate people about the importance of locally made handmade goods; spending a bit more to support the art community around you. While I think the "compacting" movement is too extreme for me, I'm sure the movement gets a lot of people thinking, reacting, maybe even changing their habits. Thanks for bringing the issue up!

Rebecca-the-Wrecker said...

well, if we were based in the US melbourne or even new zealand, maybe we wouldn't have to destroy the planet by sending our work so far and wide just to make a living! i just wish people in SEQLD bought locally rather than favouring all the cheap goods flooding in from far flung sweatshops. i think they've caught a nasty strain of affluenza while shopping at all the westfield shopping malls. ungrateful swine. seriously though, we are shooting ourselves in the foot if we don't keep making all the important things we need locally- what's gonna happen when the oil runs out and we can't get stuff we need from the other side of the world anymore? at least we'll still have shannon garson porcelian to fondle when all the electronics goods stop arriving!

Rae Dunn said...

hi shannon.

i, too, am a firm believer in the handmade and also of the old (see my blog of today !!). i thoroughly enjoy your your ceramics.....and DEFINATELY care what you had for lunch today !!!!!!

p.s....thank you so much for the "plug" a few weeks ago !

Rae Dunn said...

hi shannon...

i am also an avid believer in the handmade and in old things (see my blog of yesterday !).

i thoroughly enjoy your your ceramics.....and DEFINATELY care what you ate for lunch !!!

p.s....thanks for the "plug" on your earlier blog.