Cottage Crafted Demonstrates the Difference Between Quality Handcrafts and Kitsch at the Mother Earth News Fair

Cottage Crafted will be showcasing sustainable handcrafts such as traditional woodwork, pottery, blacksmithing and more at the Mother Earth News Fair, taking place May 31 to June 1, at the State Fairgrounds in Puyallup, WA.

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In addition to offering a slew of handcrafted items, Cottage Crafted will host an experienced potter presenting live pottery demonstrations both in-booth and on stage during a live workshop..

Puyallup, Washington (PRWEB) March 26, 2014

Cottage Crafted will be at the Mother Earth News Fair, taking place May 31 to June 1, at the State Fairgrounds in Puyallup, WA. Join them as they offer a glimpse of sustainable, agrarian craftsmanship in action while showcasing handcrafts such as woodworking, blacksmithing, pottery, textile crafts, and more.

In addition to offering a slew of handcrafted items, Cottage Crafted will host an experienced potter, from the Ploughshare Institute (http://www.sustainlife.org), presenting live pottery demonstrations both in-booth and on stage during a live workshop. Come reap inspiration by watching handcrafted creation in action. See our article about sustainable pottery at the Mother Earth News Blog: http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/how-to-find-your-own-clay-and-make-your-first-sustainable-pottery-projectzb0z1403zacai.aspx

Cottage Crafted also helped supply the $7,500 Mother Earth News Homesteader Sweepstakes, featuring a Cottage Crafted Homesteader Set: a mesquite box, a gift basket set (including a bread basket, bread cloth, hardwood cutting board, wood spatula, and wood butter knife), and a video beekeeping course.

What Cottage Crafted Offers

Quality handcrafts -- as opposed to today’s mass produced cheap trinkets -- have helped agrarian farmers through the centuries to sustainably perform their work while enjoying their lives to the fullest. The industrial and technological revolution is broken on many fronts, offering only a facade: cheaply made, mass-produced products that with an intolerable -- and often disastrous -- failure rate.

CottageCrafted.com offers creative community handcrafts by traditional artisans supporting an agrarian lifestyle in a sustainable village context. These functional handcrafts range from pottery for the kitchen, to blacksmithed garden tools, to wooden musical instruments. And those are just a sampling of Cottage Crafted’s utilitarian-but-heirloom handcrafts.

All Cottage Crafted items are fashioned from local resources including wood, metal, animal and plant fiber, clay, leather, bamboo, and artisan cheese. Even straw and reeds are used for brooms and baskets. Our crafted offerings also include items for growing your own food crops to nourish you and your animals with non-hybrid, non-GMO, open pollinated seeds. We even offer restored timber frame barns from the 1700s and 1800s for the ultimate historical home. We offer all that and more at our fully functional Online Village.

At Cottage Crafted, you’re always welcome to come on in!

What Is “Handcrafted”?

Simply put, “handcrafted,” by the traditional standard, means functional art: something that expresses the beliefs, values, and work ethic of the craftsman, while simultaneously fulfilling a genuine need in the wider community. Tools, furniture, clothing, carefully grown food -- all these items, if made and cultivated by hand, constitute quality handcrafts.

In our mass-produced world, unfortunately, “handcrafts” have taken on a kitschy connotation. (Kitsch, according to one popular dictionary, is defined as something in poor taste, cheap, shoddy, and excessively garish.) These pseudo-crafts obviously have no lasting value, except to promote the vanity of the moment in hopes of a quick payoff. Also, kitschy items lack the skill and care put into quality handcrafts and are often made of mass-produced goods. Thus, kitsch is closer to poorly made, heavily embellished Victorian manufactured goods than to any sort of traditional handcrafting.

The kitschiness of the day isn’t the only thing threatening to dismantle all we remember about traditional handcrafts; even the well-meaning-yet-faddish Do-It-Yourself movement too often devolves into the tawdry, gawdy, and the tasteless.

Why Handcrafted?

Handcrafts are an indispensable step toward sustainability. Lasting handcrafts are a responsible way of making the necessities of life within a sustainable, community-oriented context.

Quality handcrafted items offer a number of benefits: The sustainable craftsman’s demand on natural resources is limited, thus providing a more eco-friendly service. The artisans are fully responsible for their work, thus offering built-in accountability as each piece is made one at a time. Each craftsman owns his or her own tools and works in his or her own shop, thus ensuring a built-in sense of pride and ownership.

The results are expressions of the artisans -- who they are, what they believe, and how they create. Each handcraft is a work of art, as opposed to mass produced, Made In Nowhere knickknacks and whatnots.

Modern industrial methods, no matter how efficient (or “green”), tend to diffuse this responsibility among a host of people. This dispersion deprives the craftsman of owning the means of his or her livelihood, strains the environment through pollution and waste, and feeds an insatiable appetite for more and more non-sustainable resources. By contrast, handcrafts take so little from the earth’s abundance, that nature has ample time to replace those resources, thereby promoting a perfectly sustainable and self-sufficient way of life.

Handcrafted excellence also shines through in the craftsman’s reliance on local, renewable resources. As part of a local eco-system, a craftsman truly understands the relationship between use, reuse, and ultimate sustainability. The craftsman intuitively understands this bond because he fully lives this connection out in his day-to-day life. It’s part of the fiber of who he is.

Perhaps the ideas of handcrafted excellence are most succinctly expressed by authors Dooling and Remde, respectively:

“Nothing that is machine-made, whether by mass production in a factory or by an unconscious and mechanical workman, can be a channel for that direct, living exchange which is experienced, however rarely, in the sight and touch of certain handmade objects, when a palpable energy is transmitted, something of life itself.”

  • D.M. Dooling

“The craftsman’s work is profitable for his customers. What has been built … carries the message of its own existence. However small, it exists wholly, not in part. The message speaks in the intended way of … functioning. Through his work in the craft, that which existed in the craftsman is disclosed to another person.”

  • Harry Remde

(Source for quotations: Craft, The Art of Work by Blair Adams (Austin; Colloquium Press 1996) p. 68, 75.)

What’s more, handcrafts, in their full expression, are always a part of genuine, interdependent community. For proof simply look to the past, whether ancient history, the Middle Ages, or pre-industrial modern societies (see the CottageCrafted.com blog (http://www.cottagecrafted.com/blog/) for more documentation on this topic).

These societies are nearly always connected to agrarianism; that is, small, self-sufficient farming that was once the dominant occupation of the majority of people throughout history. Even traditional village artisans, in fact, derived their primary purpose, historically, from supporting the agrarian lifestyle. The farmer needed the carpenter, the carpenter needed the farmer, and so on. Rather than cold, lifeless independence, that sort of symbiosis is reflective of true interdependence.

Are Handcrafts Merely About Nostalgia Or Tradition?

Not in the sense of a harmful hankering for the past. While that may be an erroneous idea of nostalgia, a more dictionary-correct definition revolves around a “sentimental longing” or “wistful affection” for the past.

The root of the word is from the greek “nostos,” which means “to return home.” So nostalgia is actually a desire to “return home,” back to a simpler lifestyle with traditional values. And it can be done today, as the Amish and other intentional communities around the world have shown.

Tradition isn’t a bad thing either. To quote author Eric Sloane from his monumental work, I Remember America:

“Tradition has become an ugly word in this age of revolution, and so it has become fashionable to revolt against things traditional. Yet you might as well revolt against understanding and learning and belief and culture; these things are usually the standards of tradition. Tradition deserves a second look and some serious study before we cast away something of the greatest value.”

To put it another way, tradition is the best part of understanding and learning that have propelled humanity forward through the ages. So we see that nostalgia and tradition can play an integral part in handcrafted excellence, but only if viewed from the paradigm of a proper lens via proper principles. These principles -- quality handcrafted care, agrarianism, a positive nostalgia, and a real tradition -- are what we here at Cottage Crafted are all about.

Why Choose CottageCrafted.com?

As a society we’ve driven way over the speed limits in our culture for far too long. We’ve invested too much time, money, and resources into the pursuit of what we have ordained to be “happiness,” only to find an unfulfilling hollowness inside that supposed ideal.

At CottageCrafted.com we believe that true happiness is rooted in an expression of joy and fulfillment that comes with the “ancient ways,” the tried and true paths, the way of patience and excellence.

Enjoy the fruit of our village. Peruse it slowly. See the meticulously handcrafted items. And, if we’ve done our job, you’ll be inspired to do what people in self-sustaining societies have done for centuries: create your own handcrafts, churn your own butter, craft your own furniture, and grow your own food. In any case, we hope you’ll be encouraged to support those artisans who do seek a better, more fulfilled way.

Come See Us At The Mother Earth News Fair!

While virtually all major publications are shrinking in size and circulation, the venerable Mother Earth News just keeps growing. Come get a glimpse of craftsmanship at work and see our featured handcrafts at the upcoming Mother Earth News Fair (http://www.motherearthnews.com/fair/home.aspx) this May in Puyallup, WA. See an experienced, full-time potter at work in our booth (#810) and during an onstage workshop. Be sure to enter the Mother Earth News Sweepstakes (http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading2014.aspx), which includes a variety of our handcrafts. And, for our full product line, visit our website at (http://cottagecrafted.com)


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