tools and equipment

The idea that you must have produced your work using only your own hands for it to qualify as handcrafted is a completely archaic concept at the end of the machine age. For a fiber artist to raise her own sheep and spin the wool is ridiculous in the world of production crafts. Use the technology. A CAD program can help a jeweler design her pieces. A power tool can grind and polish gemstones faster and better than rubbing them on the sidewalk. An elitist attitude belongs more to a pre-industrial age when handicrafts were all that were available, and then only to a few. The contemporary crafts movement -- where excellence of design is only one part of the product's mix, and perhaps not even the most important component -- accommodates technology to reduce cost and facilitate reproducibility; to maximize your distribution, these concerns are at least as important.

With the ubiquity of electric motors and cheap power from your local utility, you would be foolish not to avail yourself of any labor saving tool. The fact that machines are used in your process does not detract from the value of those eloquent objects you produce, and such tools help you make more consistent objects at a more affordable price. That in turn makes them more marketable. With the coming of AC power at the end of the last century, and the widespread electrification of America at the beginning of this one, everything from sewing machines to toasters were fair game for automation -- the vibrator (you know the kind) beat out the iron by a decade! Why not crafts?

Soon you will be embedding coded microchips in your craft widgets containing a universal product code and care instructions, among other things. Don't worry, these chips will become pervasive within the next couple of years ­ even that head of lettuce you buy at the corner grocery store will have one. There is nothing inconsistent with trying to take the handwork out of your craft in order to maximize your creative or productive time. Don't be a craft dinosaur; use the technology.

   
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