This I Believe

Michaelene - Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Entered on September 18, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: creativity

I believe in the handmade.

As a girl I recall going to an annual Christmas Bazaar held in the basement of my school church. Everything at the Bazaar was hand made. I dreaded the once a year visit there, ostensibly to buy Christmas presents. The crocheted kleenex holders, popsicle stick soap dishes and hand sewn stuffed animals were not my style. At that time, I valued the store bought, mass-produced things I could find at the Mall. In fact, one Christmas I was given a handmade Miss Piggy doll and I cried in disappointment. Back then, I believed the “real” Muppets, (available only at Toys-R-Us) were far superior to the crocheted version of Miss Piggy to be found in the church basement.

In college I learned to use my hands to make pottery on the potters wheel. The process was much more challenging and frustrating than I ever imagined. It was like learning a new language. Other courses that required skilled use of my hands followed and in an organic process – aided by the humbling experience of attempting to make handmade things myself- my appreciation for the handmade slowly grew. Having worked with my own two hands, I became aware of handmade objects everywhere in my world and began to appreciate the challenges faced by those who had created those things.

I believe there is dignity in the handmade. One of a kind, hand made objects have endearing flaws and eccentricities, just like human beings. The quirky heart and soul of each person comes to life in what their hands create. I believe in learning to appreciate the handmade, I learned to appreciate others.

My home now is full of hand made objects. Every day I am aware of whose hands have made the cup I am drinking from, the quilt I sleep under or the bowl I use. When I eat, it is as if the friend who made the pot is sharing my meal with me. My handmade things are like proxies for the individuals who created them. Like their makers, I value their character and they add joy to my daily life.

Last week my husband broke one of my favorite handmade cups. The cup was made by a past student of mine, Patrick. Although I was a little sad about it breaking, I knew that I had 10 good years of use and enjoyment from it. On any given day I used Patrick’s cup, I thought of him and of what he might be doing now. That is the true gift of the handmade. It offers me a space for contemplating the connection I have to another human being- despite the time and distance between us.

I value and believe in the handmade. What I wouldn’t give now to go back to the church basement and buy that crocheted Miss Piggy to take home. I believe, like all the other handmade objects in my life, that it would add soulfullness and joy to my home.