Sunday, March 30, 2008

Buyer's Etiquette

After an extremely frustrating morning at the local green market yesterday, I thought it might be nice to set out some guidelines for those of you who frequent such things and come upon people like me who happen to sit amid the produce and the bread with our handmade wares.

1. Please do not stick your nose right into my soy candles, leaving your indelible noseprint on the smooth surface. It is not nice.

2. Please do not pick up every item on my table, then reach for the smallest item, ask how much it is and when I tell you, grunt "huh" and put it back down with a look of disdain. This hurts my fragile little feelings.

3. Please do not tell me the lady at the end sells HER candles for $5. Yes, she does. And her candles are made of paraffin wax with strange synthetic smelling scents like "Oooh La La" poured into little tins. She can afford to sell hers for $5. I am an artist, I make my own pottery, use only soy wax and I don't have any candles scented with "Oooh La La." This insults me and makes me want to tell you that, by all means, go and buy HER candles, instead. And maybe wing something at your head as you leave.

4. Please do not waste my time asking a thousand questions about how I make my pottery, telling me how much you love my candles and think soy wax is a much better product for taking a step toward sustainability, THEN walk past my booth a half hour later with a bag from the $5 candle lady. That is just mean!

5. Please do not let your children grab my candles (pottery is BREAKABLE and not child-friendly) and stick their sweet little fingers into the wax and say "Wow, Mommy, I really like this one." If you must let your child do that, at least buy a candle. It would offset the price of my tranquilizers.

6. Please do not suggest I may wish to trade one of my $20 candles for a few tomatoes from your booth. Tomatoes give me hives.

7. If you are a guy wearing a Harley tee shirt and haven't shaved in a week, I don't believe you are interested in my candles but are trying to hit on me. Go away and hit on the tomato lady.

I'm sure there are more words of wisdom I could impart but I am having flashbacks and those people aren't going to be reading my blog anyway. Now, to get ready for today's greenmarket! (Just kidding!)

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handcrafted soaps and pottery

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The New Economy

The term “handmade” conjured up images of little crocheted doilies and baked goods that were sold at our local craft fair each summer. Sweet little old men fashioned quacking ducks out of wood on long dowels and the beer drinkers’ wives made whirlygigs out of the empty beer cans. We looked forward to the summer craft fair and I think we may have made one beer can purchase throughout the years. But did people really make major purchases here? “Handmade” was for hobbyists, right?


In a world of mass production and super Wal-Marts, we are yearning for the craftsmanship and human touch of “handmade.” In a world seeking to find sustainability after we have learned some very hard lessons about excess, we are tired of seeing the tags saying “Made in Sri Lanka” in our mass-produced, oh-so-expensive designer clothing, “Made in China” stamped on our toys, and tired of talking to “Tommy” in India about the charge on our credit card that isn’t ours.

There is a yearning, running quiet and deep in the American soul, for something we have lost. Our great-grandparents knew it, maybe even our grandparents. But somewhere along the way, industrialized economy became our battle cry and the lifeblood of our system. Bigger, better, more, faster. And now, if we haven’t succumbed to Prozac-ing ourselves into artifically induced happiness, we may feel something tugging at our sleeves.

Shhh! There is a movement out there and if you are very quiet, you may just begin to hear it on the wind behind the noise we’ve become anesthetized to. You may pick up a word here or there. “Handmade.” “Locally grown.” “Community.” Look closely. Greenmarkets, WholeFoods, craft fairs, artists’ co-ops. And, the Web. Yes, the big WWW has gotten in on it, too. Because “community” has gone global. Real, honest-to-goodness people creating a real honest-to-goodness economy of the new “handmade.”

Learn more about my handmade soaps, soy candles and pottery.