When does an item stop being handmade?
Posted By: luci
Date: 2003/4/10 3:26 p.m.

Where do we draw the line with this handmade stuff?
But what is hand made to you?

Do you have to make everything from scratch...from beginning to the end?
Like over seas they don't have a lot of the stuff already made so they improvise and most of their stuff is handmade including the glue.
We have to change something or someone but what?
I think we have to educate our customers but how do you do it?
Do you tell them how you made everything from A-Z.
What about those people that sub-contract some of their work?
My friend used to sell bunnies but the bodies she sub-contracted them out. She didn't make the bodies..but the bunnies were handmade but not by my friend...is that bunny still considered handmade?

If yes..then is handmade only if it's made in your own country and not mass produced or is it only if it's handmade by the seller?

Now if the same bunny's body was sub-contracted over seas and not mass produced will it still be considered handmade?

I know this is such a frustrating question for crafters. I think what we all have to do is educate our customers and let them know the reason why they should by from us. We have to stand tall and proud and look at them straight into their eyeballs while doing it. (0.0)..kinda..read my eyeballs. As hard as it might be don't do shows with vendors that de-evaluate your work. Even if you lose some on that show you will gain on the long run.

It's the same mentality though.
If something doesn't sell right away the first thing that people do is lower their price. The experienced crafter will either pull it off the shelf for a while or raise their price. I had my 2cents, what do you think?

: where do we draw the line with this
2003/4/10 3:26 p.m.
Wow! What a question Luci!!

What is home made?? Well, I cut the wood out and paint it, so I consider it home made (or hand-crafted rather). But some things I just paint - tin-ware, glass, soap - and I still consider it hand-crafted. I haven't really changed it, and sometimes taken a "usable" item and made it "decorative" instead. But I don't know at what point I would say an item is not home made. Is it home made if you take a shirt (made in some other country) and used a machine to embroider something onto it?? Or should the embroidery be hand stitched??
Too much to think of - what's everyone else think??
THeresa E


My personal opinion. I don't care if anyone
2003/4/10 3:26 p.m.

takes a store bought item and incorporates it into a craft, what brothers me is when a person buys items from the dollar store and sells them just "as is". I feel that is deception. People pay money most of the time to get into a craft fair, so when they go and pay money to get in, they expect to see "handcrafted" items, not items from the dollar store packaged up and sold to make a profit. This is what is giving craft shows a bad name.

I stopped going to craft shows for the last few years because I knew that I was not seeing "handcrafted" items, and items that where mass produced. Until the craft shows put a stop to this, your going to see a lot less people willing to pay to purchase and pay to come in and look. patti

I've discussed this issue with several crafters both
2003/4/10 3:26 p.m.

in person and online. Especially regarding the juried shows regardless of fees to participate. As many of you know, my fine motor skills are shot ~ no more fine stitching and such. I can hold a small paintbrush for eyes if they're large eyes and it's a good day. Fine detail is out for the most part - or take years to finish.

Consequently, when I get someone to help me with things I just cannot do, does that disqualify me as a crafter? Or have I become a mass producer to make enough product to go to a show with... The concensus of opinion seems to be that as long as it's my design, and is executed according to my specs for things I cannot do based on limitations, then it is truly handcrafted by me. We did not discuss numbers, here, of helpers, but you get the meaning. No, not talking 50 or 100 helpers by any means...

So if you, as a crafter, have physical limitations and need help, it is acceptable to even hire assistance. The issue of the resale of items as if you made them. WRONG! In school this is called PLAGERISM and students are immediately expelled for such behavior. Not only that, but plagerism is punishable by law in some cases!!! Beware of what is being sold as what, even next to you at a show. Bad behaviour reflects on all of us! The issue of using dollar stores: I use them all the time. One example; I bought beads in the form of a 4 foot garland that I have taken apart and repainted for my mini trees. Even if I didn't repaint them, and used them as is, they are inexpensive supplies. The same beads at Michael's were over $3.00 per pkg of less than a dozen. No one would pay those prices for these trees in order for me to make any money, so I will continue to buy supplies as cheap as I can. Unfortunately, not using enough of any one thing to order wholesale, so these stores are a God Send to me as a crafter.


Take their figurines or ornaments:
IF you care to RE-PAINT them, and make them your own to sell, feel free. If they are well done and you want to buy 2 for a buck and sell at 2 bucks each - totally unethical at a craft fair/show/boutique or whatever. You are cheating the public when you do this who in turn thinks everyone participating in the event does the same thing. If I knew someone selling where I was practiced this style, don't believe I could control my mouth. You see, they would cost ME money by giving the false impression. When the buyer happens to find the dollar store and sees that they spent $2.00 for a 50 cent item ~ what do you think they'd feel or say? Do you think they'll come back to a craft show again??? I tried to advocate it's okay to get help, but not mass produce for profit... It's okay to buy stuff to use at the dollar stores IN your crafting or even use something for the base of a craft... And NOT okay to resell without doing anything but change the packaging. Next? karen

sub-contracting parts out to be made...
2003/4/10 3:26 p.m.

I think if you have someone "sew the bodies" or "stuff" them for you it depends on the amount of folks you have doing it. If you have one or two ladies/kids helping, that's one thing. If you have a company or 50 folks making for you, it has become commercial for profit and you lose the "handmade by 'ME'" title. Anything stuffed I have to grab a kid. Can't pack it enough to last! Therefore, I have set limits on what I make and how I make them as well as the numbers I need. Does this help anyone? karen

Re: uh oh that question again LOL here's my 2 cents worth.
2003/4/10 3:26 p.m.

I totally agree w/the reponses so far...I think what really is the issue at the craft shows, craft malls etc is that the items we make, by ourselves or w/limited help, as in Karen's case, due to handicap limitations cannot compete w/the "market" and "buy/sell" that is being let in and trying to be sold as handmade by the person in the booth. They probably are handmade in a 3rd world country by some poor soul that is making the equivilent of 10cents an hour for their labor. What really makes me angry is the fact that they remove the "made in...." tags to pass them off as their own creation.

Number #1 that is illegal by the Fair Trade Act and punishable by fine or imprisonment and number #2 it is totally unethical.

Okay, enough of my ranting. There are some high end juried shows that require you to totally make your entire craft and require you submit pictures of the process being performed...I haven't done one of those shows yet and probably won't I am one of the few shops that I know of in this part of the country that will not allow the bought stuff in to resell.

The customers seem to appreciate the fact that the sign on the door says "craft mall" and that is exactly what it is inside....not a GIFT SHOP. I have no problem w/encorporating bought into the craft but not the craft into the "bought" Does that make sense? Oh Luci, you did open a can of worms Everyone has a different idea of what is actually handmade, but I think the one thing that we can all agree on is that if you buy it, don't change it or only slightly change it, you cannot call it your own creation. Thanks for the question, NEXT????? Sharon



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