Saturday, December 17, 2011


Folks are now talking about the need for people to get back into making things, but the new high-tech way. High-tech seems to be an idea with sex appeal for those who've never made anything before in their lives and are slightly afraid of breaking a nail. Or those who are slightly afraid of the long hours one needs to invest to develop skill.

This movement (if it is indeed a movement) is called HTSP, or "high-tech self-providing," and is described in this web page: New work centers and HTSP by Juliet Schor.

Can you imagine do-it-all fabricator machines in place of our TV's? Instead of watching TV at night, we could watch our very own small trash cans and other self created plastic objects being molded, trimmed and spit out the fabricator's side door in a variety of fashion colors. Because these are production machines in a non-production environment, we could set up Amway like customer marketing schemes to bring in just enough profit to keep feed our addiction to the making of HTSP stuff.

I am reminded of the Styron® crystals my dad brought home for us to play with in the 60's. They would melt at temperatures reached in our home oven into whatever shapes we could imagine and make molds for. My dad's idea was that big 100 lb sacks of Styron® direct from Dow® could be repackaged and sold at a huge profit through craft supply outlets. In using this wonderful product there were  gasses and fumes emitted that turned our house into an industrial danger zone. Fortunately my dad gave up on the idea of marketing home-crafted plastic products before any of us were permanently damaged or deranged, and before health related law-suits began pouring in.  We have love affairs with our ink jet printers, don't we?  We can buy one cheap and then buy expensive ink cartridges for it until its planned obsolescence. The same thing will be true of these devices that are suggested to turn our lives into creative bliss. 3-D thermal object printers? Give me a happy hammer and a cheerful saw and some real non-toxic wood any day of the week.

Out of concern for the health and happiness of others I would propose a different scene. I call it LTSP or "low-tech self-providing." Imagine if we were to take a fresh look at the pleasure and satisfaction that can come from self-supplying goods for our own consumption, but instead of insisting on high-tech banishment of skilled hands, we were to take a low tech approach using traditional tools. In honor of the past and the long heritage of intelligent craftsmanship, we might also call it HĂ«msloyd. For that is what they have traditionally called cottage crafts in Sweden.

Yes, the idea of just self-fabricating stuff without skill is appealing to our generations all abuzz with high-tech devices. But we must not overlook the merits of doing things the old hard way that lifted our spirits, raised our intelligence and put a polish on our sense of self.

ABC News did a survey claiming that:
If every American spent $64 on something made in America, we could create 200,000 jobs right now.
That might sound like a lot to spend until we heard that the average American spends $700 on Christmas or holiday gifts.
So where will you spend your money this year?
Don't wait, make something beautiful and useful today and join what might become a growing legion of the LTSP, more commonly called craftsmen.

The photos above are of small cabinets made during the filming of my DVD Building Small Cabinets. These were all made with relatively low-tech tools, the skilled way. And you can spend wonderful hours making fine furnishings for your own home and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. For some reason the high-tech folks don't seem to know that.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous5:13 AM

    Well said, indeed. LTSP sounds like what we do in our shops and gardens. Very satisfying stuff.