Saturday, July 14, 2007

We are going to a family reunion in Idaho this next week and one of my tasks during the week I am away will be to visit a few galleries to look at the work of other box makers. Marketing is one of the hardest parts of self-employment, and I need a great deal of information to participate successfully in business.

What is the value of the craftsman's work? It is often a factor of the buyer's understanding. When you buy something that is purely utilitarian (sad this is true), you will look at usefulness, longevity and price, and often price is the primary consideration (even though there may be hidden costs that you will never know.)

So we could go shopping at the big box store for little boxes, and we would find inexpensive well made useful and possibly beautiful things made in China or another emerging nation.

Or we could go shopping and buy a Doug Stowe original, made from native hardwoods, actually made by a real person(me), and the price might be many times the cost of the Chinese box, and looking at the finish, and the quality of work (being limited production and real materials) questionable... there are flaws in it!

Well, John Henry I'm not. I can't compete with the mechanized and mindless production of emerging nations. So here is something for comparison. Say you are making pancakes this morning and you need to flip them over. You could make a quick run to the big box store and buy one of plastic whose ingredients and their origins are unknown, quite possibly toxic and may not kill you this morning. Or you could have someone in your town make you one similar to the Smörspade shown in the July 10 posting of student made models from 1902. You might pay more for the wooden one. It might last for over a hundred years as this one has. It is guaranteed not to have any toxic ingredients, and it was made by someone you know, respect, and possibly love. When you use it it reminds you of your relationship and what you feel. And you can feel in it's smoothness and carefully crafted line, the attention and care invested in it. Over time, you may sense in it the energies of others who used it before you, or it may become an unconscious extension of your own being. It may not make the pancakes taste better, but it will enrich the experience of making them and express your connection with a deeper, more meaningful world.

So, you can see the challenge of marketing. It is not a simple matter of dollars but of sense.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:02 PM

    Thank goodness there are still some people in the world who can see beyond the savings in cost they may find at the big box and appreciate what a craftsman does to make something.