How much “handmade” does it really have to be to qualify?

This question arose for me when I looked at some of the handmade websites around the internet and was surprised what I found. Does it have to be at least 60%, 80% or 100% handmade to be called that? So the outcome would be that of a “handmade item of superior quality?”

handknit fun fur scarfHanging a purchased ear wire on a purchased pendant or putting a purchased pendant and a purchased necklace together is absolutely not handmade for me, buying clothes at resale stores and sewing on a purchased applique is not handmade for me. Taking a vase from a florist and sticking some artificial purchased flowers is not enough handmade for me.

handmade wand

So who defines this, who clarifies this “what is handmade”? Use your own judgment when you look to buy and look for the “superior quality” which is worth spending a bit more money on!

hand tooled leather wallet

The definition of Handmade- made by hand not by machine, its pretty clear, but where do these “put two purchased items together and call it handmade” fit in? In my humble opinion – nowhere in handmade.

handmade rag doll

“Made by hand, not by machine, and typically therefore of superior quality”  Well, the purchased pendant and ear wire put together, does not fall into handmade for superior quality, especially when purchased at a foreign country. Purchasing  a vintage resale shop item and sew on a application on this item is not “handmade superior quality”. Imported items made by hand in a factory setting by others, in a foreign country for cheap labor and material; and then sell it in the USA is certainly not “usually handmade superior quality” and it takes the jobs away from the USA unemployed.

vegan handmade soap

Handmade is knitting, crocheting from the very first stitch, sewing from fabric creating a totally new product is, making candles or soap from numerous ingredients is handmade for me. Making jewelry designs by stringing pearl and special stone designs is handmade for me. Handmade is taking wood and making a totally new product out of it. Quilting is handmade, making dolls and bears from scratch is handmade, making books and cards from scratch is handmade, drawings, paintings by the artists is handmade, spinning wool by hand is handmade, leather tooling is handmade, I could go on and on, …..and am expressing just my humble opinion here.

hand dyed marino wool

There are some that just need to be excluded, for the basic definition – that the outcome is not a “usually handmade item of superior quality” when looking at the finished product.

country flower votive candles

With the holidays approaching, I find myself looking for unique, up cycled or handmade gifts ideas. Something made form scratch, becoming a totally new item. Handmade gifts that are of superior quality, can be personalized, are thoughtful, and avoid the waste and consumerism most associated with this time of year.

So purchase with care this year and really all other times too.

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Posted in Handmade

5 Responses to “How much “handmade” does it really have to be to qualify?”

  • You make some excellant points here. In my own defense, while I do struggle with over whether I can call my pieces handmade, many of us do try hard to come up with original jewelry designs that do involve more work than just attaching a charm to a chain or an ear wire. Again, I do agree with with the points you make here though.

  • Bluerose, we all use some parts or other to create something new that has the quality of a handmade item!,
    But when I see the latter i.e jewelry parts put together….I call them “assemblers”! There is nothing handmade about it, nor is there quality in it. Just MHO……there are many more examples out there, that should not be called handmade.

  • lisianblue says:

    Some excellent points! Wow, was I surprised to see my fluffy blue scarf at the top of the page :) Thank you so much for including it!!

  • MulchandMore says:

    Handmade isn’t nearly as self sufficient as it could/should be. We have all become dependent on supplies from others. I don’t raise fiber animals, but buy fleece from those who do, or roving and top from a local woolen mill. This allows me to play with colors on a wider variety of breeds and the time to take my handmade items to shows.
    You have brought out some great points about handmade. To me the skill and creativity used in making things brings the quality to handmade.

  • Agree with all of you, there is no skill and quality in “assembled things nor changed by sewing an applique on an old garment things” and…and….and…wont go into the
    issue of foreign sweat shops selling as handmade – again….
    Just be careful what you buy and look for the quality of handmade and not jacked up prices for other items, which is “just stuff”…..


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