Author Topic: Suggestion..  (Read 3429 times)

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Offline Larissa

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Re: Suggestion..
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2013, 07:19:09 PM »
Granny,

If someone googles handmade soap, they probably won't even find me, honestly.  There's a sea of soapers out there, and it's not an easy field.  They'll see both my kind of stuff, though, and the melt-n-pour types who use soap bases.  They're all mixed in.  They'll also see liars who claim their soap is "all natural" but who use fragrance oils (decidedly not natural) while I use only the more expensive and more limited scents provided by essential oils.  So yeah, I definitely get your point and in my heart, I agree with you.

But in my head, I think it won't work.  I really hope I'm not coming off antagonistic here, because I really don't intend to be.  I just feel like somehow I'm not making my point clear.

I see a few problems with separating things out the way you're suggesting.

1)  I've already described the first, in that at what point does an item require entry into a specific category?  Using my puppet as an example, would I be able to put him into "hand-sewn" even though he was 10% machine sewn?  Or would I have to put him in "machine sewn," even though he was 90% done by hand?  To use your own example, what if an item like an afghan was partly machine-knitted (which I've never even heard of, unless you mean those knitting looms I've seen at JoAnns?) and partly hand-knitted with needles?  Where would it fit in?

2)  The second is that with all the fallout from Etsy and the jaded feeling of so many Etsy sellers over that venue allowing mass-produced, I feel like calling things machine-made here will give the impression that we're going the same direction and allowing non-handmade.  It's just a perception issue, and we need to be careful with that.  At that point, it becomes a marketing issue, and there's nothing more important than choosing the right words and presentation.

3)  The third is that people who are not crafters, not "in the know," are our eventual targets.  While I'd love to sell all of my stuff to all of you here, in the end, you're not a large enough market.  I want to sell to the world at large.  And those people need to be taken into account when we think about things like this.  What will they think of the word "machine" in a category?  Will they know we mean it's still handmade, just in a potentially more efficient way?  It's a concern.

4)  And the last is that I think to some extent your concern is unwarranted.  We'll use your quilt example.  Say I'm looking for a quilt.  I'm figuring I'm going to spend a couple hundred dollars or more.  Well, not being a multimillionaire, that to me is an investment of sorts.  I'm going to want quality.  And I'm going to want to be sure I found the absolute perfect quilt.  So yes, I'm going to go to the quilt category and look at EVERY SINGLE QUILT.  First, I'm going to weed them out by sight.  If they don't catch my eye, they're not investigating further.  So then I've narrowed it down to the ones that interest me by way of looks in the thumbnail shot.  Those are the ones I'll click on to look at the photos bigger, and I'll further weed them out by ditching the ones that aren't my style once I see the details.  Then I'll read the descriptions to see what information I can gather about them.  To some extent, I'll choose the one that's THE ONE based on how it looks, and to some extent based on the description.  If there's a story, if there's a sense of humor, if I can discern a good personality in the creator, and yes, if I can tell a ton of work went into it.

Sorry I'm so verbose.  This is a novel, I know.

Offline Nárrína

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Re: Suggestion..
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2013, 07:46:02 PM »
I 400% agree with Larissa on every point she has made. Those that are not crafters will by-and-large not understand what is meant by 'machine made.' They will automatically presume 'manufactured.' Do not assume that the customers will understand our terminology. They don't.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have people at shows ask me what what my jewelry is and when I tell them it is chainmaille they just give me a blank stare. Or, they look at my jewelry and say 'you know, this looks a lot like chainmaille.' This is a bit awkward for me, as I then have to explain what chainmaille is ,or that the reason it looks so much like chainmaille is because it is chainmaille, while being careful to make sure they don't think I'm mocking them or insulting their intelligence. 

Jewelry has the same issue as what you've mentioned. In jewelry there is hand-fabricated and hand-assembled. With hand fabrication, the jewelry is made from raw materials (wire, sheet, ....) while hand-assembled is made from chains, charms, clasps, and other jewelry components that someone else made and you bought and put together how you wished.  Both are still, at least by most, considered handmade even though one method involves a lot more by-hand work than the other. Chainmaille, again, has this same issue. There is chainmaille made from rings you made yourself and there is chainmaille made by bought pre-made rings.

Handmade is handmade. Most buyers, unfortunately, don't especially care how you made your work, just that it IS handmade. Yes, some do, but for most their decision to buy will come down to two questions: 1) Do I like it,  and 2) can I afford it and you then have to explain all the benefits of how you chose to make your work vs the other methods. (Especially since this most often equates to higher prices.)

Not only do you have the issue of possibly confusing the customers, but how well do you think such differentiation between these methods would be taken by those that used a machine or assembled etc.? Do you think that they'd be happy or feel their work was being somehow 'lessened'? I know that is not your intention, but unfortunately that would be how many would likely perceive it.

Also, as Larissa has already said, many people use both methods on the same piece.  How do you decide then which category it should go in?  I have a very similar issue to this.  I make a lot of chainmaille jewelry and never really know what category would be best to list my work in.  Do I list it in jewelry or do I list in in chainmaille? If I list it in jewelry, there is the issue that there are soooo many listings in there that mine might get 'lost,' however, not everyone is familiar with chainmaille and would think to look for jewelry in that category. Then there is the issue that some of my piece involve both chainmaille and wire-wrapping and there is a jewelry sub-category for wire-wrapping. So again, where do you decide to put it? Ideally, would be to list it in multiple applicable categories/sub-categories, but we can only pick one category.

I understand your frustration. Really I do, however, there isn't really any satisfactory solution to it.  What it has to come down to is use your description to emphasize the complexity of your work, your process, and the benefits of buying pieces that use that method over the alternatives and then let the customer decide.  Do your part to market and promote your work and educate the potential buyers as to the differences and benefits of the various options.

Offline iKnitQuiltSew

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Re: Suggestion..
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2013, 10:31:05 PM »
Okay...  I will weigh in.

It's entirely possible that the "Machine appliqued, then entirely hand-quilted" quilt you referenced was one of my quilts.  So I would like to describe the process that goes into the creation of my handmade quilts.

The first thing I  need is an idea.  That begins somewhere in my brain and evolves for a short or long period of time.  Most of my ideas get mulled over in my head for a period of days.  Lots of refinement goes into the idea during this process.

Once I think the idea has promise, I sketch.  I've learned that if I can get a very rough sketch of the idea, that I can quilt it. 

Once I have a sketch, then I determine size, and once that's done, I formulate how much of each component I'm going to need.  Inevitably, there's a shopping trip at this point.

All of the fabrics I use are manufactured.  It's also all machine washed and dried before assembly.  If it's going to run or shrink, I want to know that before I include it in a quilt.  I buy quilt batting by the bolt (also manufactured).

When all the fabric has been washed and ironed, I do the initial layout.  I hand cut all of my pieces using manual scissors or a rotary cutter (depending on the quilt).  I lay absolutely everything out, adjusting to suit the idea, as I go.  I pin each and every piece in place, and once the whole thing is 'there,' it's time to applique.

I have a 6-year-old Singer sewing machine that was $129 brand new.  It's not computerized and it isn't programmable.  It's a tool to secure pieces of fabric to my mounting yardage to create the scene on the quilt.  I choose thread color to compliment the overall design as I go.  Depending on the quilt, applique takes between one and four or five days for me to complete.

With the quilt top done, the backing, batting and top get aligned and temporarily secured to each other (pinned) and the whole thing goes on my quilt frame (which by the way is a lovely thing built for me by my husband).  My hand quilting runs about 10-12 stitches per inch.  Hand quilting is when I feel my quilts come alive and develop their personality.

When all the quilting is done (typically one-four weeks depending on my time issues), the quilt gets bound.  My $129 Singer helps me here too.  It's been my experience that the binding on a quilt takes a beating and initially machine sewing it does add to the stability.  After the binding is sewn on by machine on the inside of the binding on the front, the entire binding is sewn on the back with a needle and thread in my hands.  My husband and I both have know for a very long time that my quilts are not "official" until I have been bleeding through the creation process at least once!

Although I don't think your intent was to imply that my use of a sewing machine, or any other quilter's use of a sewing machine, diminishes the quality of the finished product, that's exactly what I read.  The use of a home-use sewing machine does not make one of my quilts any less heirloom quality.  It also doesn't make my quilts not handmade.  What makes a quilt heirloom quality is the integrity of the materials put into it to begin with.  What makes it "art" is the thought of the person who did the work.

Creating categories to separate quilts (or any category) into "no machine used" and "machine used" would significantly complicate the issue from a shopper's standpoint, and, I think, imply diminished quality in those items that wound up in the "machine used" category.

It's my opinion that it is handmade, even if electricity helped, if the artist's hands had to control the project when the machine was being used (an electric sander vs. a piece of sand paper).  It is machine made when human hands are not required in the process.

More and more things are being invented to assist us humans in that which we pursue.  These inventions generally are time-savers, and none of us seem to have enough time.  So when a powered tool can assist us through the creation process and save us time, I just don't see an issue.  Just because a machine was used doesn't make the finished product "manufactured."

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Re: Suggestion..
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2013, 01:40:16 PM »
IKnitQuiltSew...Someone had mentioned in a post here that HA did not allow anything that was not completely handmade....these were 2 of the first 4 quilts I looked at..   so it wasn't yours (I did not look to see who it wasl...did not care)
When I sesarch for something, if there is 2,000 more or less, of a thing, I will not look at more than the first page.   If the 2,000, more or less, were broken down into 2 different techniques, I may look at 3 pages.  If this 1,000 more or less is broken down by color (maybe 5 colors)  that would leave 200 that I may be interested in....now you are talking my style.
I think y'all are so influnced by the conversations 'over there' about what is handmade that you cannot understand that I suggested to brouse by hand knit and machine knit...and both be under 'handmade'
I have divided my shops 'over there' because I do some good work (as good as I can do now) and some is just machine sewing.  Noone wants a crazy quilt embroudered (no wants to pay for it at least) potholder....and if you want a  potholder you may not care one whit about a cathedral window thingy. 
We have had a great converstion...no blows yet...no minds changed....I really want HA to succeed and all of us get rich  LOL.   If you noticed 'over there' that I started saying before Christmas that I really liked the looks of HA and Zippet....I like HA better since I've look more.  I would like to know how many from 'over there' have come over here since Christmas.  When they talk about going internationally and having handwork done and import, that is over my head.  I can hardly wait to see if they run the little people off or just let them die off....looks like they want to run them/us off.  If the news is correct that they got 40M to start making stuff in India for sale in US, that sure sounds a lot like what happened to China....good day,, y'all  mildred
 
 
 
 

Offline Nárrína

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Re: Suggestion..
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2013, 01:52:27 PM »
I think y'all are so influnced by the conversations 'over there' about what is handmade that you cannot understand that I suggested to brouse by hand knit and machine knit...and both be under 'handmade'

I think most of us do understand what you are meaning.  However, not everyone will, and that is, in part, what we are concerned about.

Offline iKnitQuiltSew

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Re: Suggestion..
« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2013, 02:28:36 PM »

I think y'all are so influnced by the conversations 'over there' about what is handmade that you cannot understand that I suggested to brouse by hand knit and machine knit...and both be under 'handmade'


Personally, I haven't read anything on Etsy in well over a year - assuming that's what you're referring to as "over there, " - and couldn't care less about their definition of anything.  An ordinary internet/web shopper has a very broad and unrefined idea of 'handmade...'  basically, that it was not made in a factory.  This entire discussion is one of semantics.

Offline Gaby

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Re: Suggestion..
« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2013, 05:14:23 PM »
Just jumping in to the discussion here (I hope that's ok) and I wanted to say that I have to agree with those saying dividing the handmade category into handmade and machine assisted handmade really confuses things for consumers. Most people think of things either handmade or factory made mass produced. Distinguishing yourself as someone who has, entirely by hand, made the item can be done in your description. A shopper who is looking for these specifics will take the time to read the listing to make sure they are getting what they want.

Offline ThirtytwoFlavors

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Re: Suggestion..
« Reply #22 on: March 01, 2013, 06:20:18 PM »
Hi..I'm new around these parts, but here is my take on the deal..
I also feel like this could get way too confusing.
It becomes a case of "where do you draw the line?"
Separate out hand knitters from machine knitters OR
Those that spin their own yarns? OR
Those that dye and spin their own yarns OR
Those that card and rove their own wool OR
Those that raise and sheer the sheep, wash, pick, card, rove, dye, spin, and finally make a hat
It just seems like a slippery slope and an eventual "my handmade is better than your handmade" problem.

Offline TheAlchemistsVessel

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Re: Suggestion..
« Reply #23 on: March 02, 2013, 08:21:39 AM »
Hi..I'm new around these parts, but here is my take on the deal..
I also feel like this could get way too confusing.
It becomes a case of "where do you draw the line?"
Separate out hand knitters from machine knitters OR
Those that spin their own yarns? OR
Those that dye and spin their own yarns OR
Those that card and rove their own wool OR
Those that raise and sheer the sheep, wash, pick, card, rove, dye, spin, and finally make a hat
It just seems like a slippery slope and an eventual "my handmade is better than your handmade" problem.

And someone has found the crux of the matter.  I was trying to think of a gentle way to say that all knitters here are created equal, and their items are handmade as much as anyone elses, whether you fed and sheared the sheep or alpaca or went to Knit picks and bought your yard.  You knit it, machine assisted or needles which are also tools, the item came from the hands of someone somewhere and not a factory or sweatshop.

Offline Nárrína

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Re: Suggestion..
« Reply #24 on: March 02, 2013, 10:01:44 AM »
Hi..I'm new around these parts, but here is my take on the deal..
I also feel like this could get way too confusing.
It becomes a case of "where do you draw the line?"
Separate out hand knitters from machine knitters OR
Those that spin their own yarns? OR
Those that dye and spin their own yarns OR
Those that card and rove their own wool OR
Those that raise and sheer the sheep, wash, pick, card, rove, dye, spin, and finally make a hat
It just seems like a slippery slope and an eventual "my handmade is better than your handmade" problem.

And someone has found the crux of the matter.  I was trying to think of a gentle way to say that all knitters here are created equal, and their items are handmade as much as anyone elses, whether you fed and sheared the sheep or alpaca or went to Knit picks and bought your yard.  You knit it, machine assisted or needles which are also tools, the item came from the hands of someone somewhere and not a factory or sweatshop.

Yup, handmade is handmade.  Also, it isn't the technique used that ultimately matters. It is the quality of how well the piece is made.  You are just as likely to end up with dreadful quality entirely by hand work as you are with machine assisted/assembled.  It comes down to the skill, creativity, and experience of the person making it, but handmade is still handmade. Yes, different skill sets are required for different methods and some are certainly more difficult than others, but, again, that is what the item description is for: to explain just how much work went into your pieces and what benefits you believe there are in buying that kind of work over the alternatives, but then let the customer decide and if they like the other method over yours (or are able to afford theirs and not yours), then so be it, that is their decision to make.