Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why do we make things?

In the process of taking stall bookings for Stash reHash and collecting donations of goods for Arthritis NZ's stall, I've heard many stories about people, what they make, made and once hoped or planned to make. Most stories fall into two main camps.

The first group of people are in love with making things and enabling others to make things. Some have recognised business opportunities in the "handmade revolution" and are supplying beautiful new materials and goods. Others are so enamoured with making things themselves that they have overdone the supplies shopping and need to rationalise.

Others have stopped making things. Their stories are about what happened to them along the way to mean that their supplies will now be for sale to others. Some have simply fallen out of love with making things and are moving on. Some have new responsibilities or interests taking their time. But many, young and old, have stopped making due to failing eyesight, health issues or death.

The picture above is of a name badge I found in a beautiful box of needlework supplies I bought at an op shop. I often wonder about Edith Brand who cross-stitched herself a name badge, where she wore it, what else she made and why.

For me, it started with wanting to relieve my mother of one of her most hated chores: mending. I found I loved sewing and then later also woodwork, and have been making things ever since. Over the years I have made things for many reasons including: to get something I wanted but couldn't find; to get something I couldn't afford; because I had an idea and just couldn't help myself; to provide for my family; to give handmade gifts; to express myself; to look fashionable; to look different; to save money; to make money; for stress relief; for relaxation; for fun; for a challenge; for a sense of achievement; to prove to myself I could; to prove to others I could; to teach myself; to teach others; to collaborate with others; to use precious materials; to use discarded materials; as a reaction to mass-production; to create something that will last; to save a loved thing; and very often to save my sanity.

I know that life would be simpler and certainly much tidier if I just stopped making things, but it isn't going to happen quite yet.

What do you make? Why do you make?


  1. I'm loving reading what you write here; being your sister I thought I already knew a fair bit but am learning lots. It seems your creative skills extend to writing too.

    Hope Stash ReHash is a roaring success...Cheers, Nicola

  2. Very interesting to learn a little behind-the-scenes extras. Keep up the good work!