Monday, December 29, 2014

why homemade?

(I wrote this essay of sorts a while ago, and I've realized it's kind of a great mission statement for the kind of handmade life I want to lead. Just thought I'd share it here, as I set goals for the new year.)

I can admit that I'm proud. Proud as a peacock with all his new feathers. I'm very proud of being able to say, yeah, I made that. From a piece of fabric or raw ingredients or a pile of cardboard and string. I'm even more proud if the end result looks or tastes good.

But I don't just make things myself for the rush.

I can admit that I'm a bit of a purist. I like starting from as close to scratch as I reasonably can. Starting with quality, adding my highest quality labor, ending with higher quality than I would get in a store. Fewer preservatives, less polyester, better flavor, better drape.

But I don't just make things myself for the higher quality.

I can admit that I'm a very small bit of an activist. I cry for the mistreatment of overseas textile workers, for the closed doors and sometimes maltreatment of the meat industry, for steamrolling of small farms and industries by big business. I get mad about mystery synthetic chemicals that lace our food and for the complete disconnect that our society has for the sweatshop worker in Taiwan when we pick up a $5 sweater in Forever 21.

But I don't just make things myself to avoid a culture that ignores the dangers to ourselves and the world around us caused by our desire to consume.

It's all that and then some. I believe there is intrinsic good done when you take raw materials and do the processing themselves, whether that's growing their own food, knitting their own scarves, or crafting their own decor. I believe there's nothing more empowering than learning a skill that can be used in your day-to-day life, like cooking or sewing ('cos you wear the garments or see the pillows on a day-to-day basis). I love the act of creation that pushes my mind to think critically and creatively to discover new solutions to the problems I pose in my head. I love that it's so different from the culture of academia, where I feel like the goal is sometimes just to consume as many articles and texts as possible and then to spew them out upon command. It connects me to my ancestors and helps to keep what could be dying crafts alive. It also doesn't hurt that making my own stuff saves a pretty penny over buying the same quality products, which makes my college student budget much, much happier.

That, all smashed together and mixed up and super-glued at the edges, is why homemade.

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