Jon Upsal’s Garden has a post on his blog today that I think is very good. It talks about re-creating a pre-Christian mindset, but even if you have no interest in doing that it is still very thought provoking.
Some of his comments inspired me to post this in his comments section:
“We should try to choose the hand-made over the mass-produced, even though we realize it might cost more.”
There’s a concept called amortization that is never taken into consideration except when dealing with finances, but I really think it should apply to every purchase. I am a hand weaver. I sell my towels for at least $20 per dish towel. But.
#1. They’re large. Most of my towels are 15″ by 20-22″
#2. It’s locally purchased fiber and preferably produced in the USA by American growers and processors, if I haven’t spun it myself.
3. They will last 20 years at least. Even with bleach stains, they hold up. I have towels that as far as doing their job, work as well as they did after their first wash. They are faded from repeated bleaching but they will last another 10 years as well as they have the first 10 years.
4. They are woven more densely, they only have two sides that have seams as opposed to most commercially woven dish towels which are seamed on all 4 sides, and the seams are generally stitched much more carefully.
5. You are supporting a local craftsman/woman who will in turn put that money back into your own community. Most of us are acutely aware of the importance of supporting our own craftsmen and women and will happily spend a little more in supplies to get a better quality product in return. Our products are better because THEIR products are better.
If you buy towels from Costco, they may last 3-5 years at best. If you buy dish towels from the dollar store, they might last a year. If you amortize the cost of buying the same dish towels over and over again, over a period of 20 years, it only makes sense to buy from a weaver. You pay a little more per towel but you don’t have to buy again for 2 decades – or a lifetime, depending on if you buy cotton or linen. It just makes sense.
I think that you are on to something by pointing out the tribal mindset inherent in hand crafts people. And in the magic inherent in the crafts themselves, the world view they — almost require — to produce quality. I have myself done much meditation, much magical workings while spinning or weaving, even if the extent of the magic was to will strength and good will into each fiber, luck and joy on the wearer/buyer.
And the final, probably most important reason, to support your local craftsman/woman, is because they are the keepers of the knowledge of the skills. If they give it up, there will be no one to teach it to the next generation.