Saturday, 15 June 2013

Is it dog eat dog in the world of crafting?

This may be a bit of a rantette today, so apologies if it gets a bit that way. 

I'm not normally the most tolerant of people at the best of times and I'm getting really sick of the way parts of the crafting world seem to be getting very 'us and them'. In my wanderings around the interwebs, I see forum posts and conversations about craft and whether one craft is better than another, whether levels of craft are better than another or whether 'career' crafters are better than those of us who pursue craft as a hobby. 

Let me explain what I mean. I am a 'hobby' crafter. I have a day job that pays the bills and I sell my jewellery to make money to buy more supplies. The idea is that it will be a self-financing hobby although I do tend to have more in the 'outgoings' column than the 'incoming'.  I am fully legal - I am registered with HMRC, do my tax returns, have my insurance, meet the Distance Selling Regulations and so on. Some full-time craftspeople don't like people like me, they see us as dilettantes, playing at it, undermining their efforts to make a living, and generally Not A Good Thing. We hobby crafters don't understand business, we set unrealistic prices that undermine career crafters, we don't even try to make a profit, we Just Don't Get It.

Other sections of the crafting community think that only something made entirely from hand can be called handmade; that means no bought-in components, only handmade beads, handmade clasps, everything (Not sure what you would do about wire or thread, but that was the idea anyway). There was a very nasty reorganisation on one of the UK selling websites a couple of years ago when people even had their shops closed because their things were not handmade 'enough'.   It pitted sellers against each other and I believe it made some people think that they were better than others. 

Don't get me wrong, I don't like the 'lick & stick' type of craft, where someone sticks a self-adhesive butterfly on a bit of card or hangs a charm on a bought-in chain and calls it handmade. But to me, handmade crafts are a very Good Thing. It's special to be able to say 'I did that' - yes, even if it is just stringing some commercially-made beads and a clasp onto a bit of tigertail. It was just a pile of beads and a length of wire, but I thought about it, I decided on a design and I physically made a bracelet  from those materials. 

I think what I'm trying to say is that nobody has the right to put anyone else down. I sell my work in church halls and school fetes, and I enjoy it. I can't afford the fees for the big marquee-based events, or the big 02 thing coming up later in the year. That doesn't make me or my work any less worthy than that of the people who can afford those things and I'm fed up of being put down by people who think they are a cut above. The craft world doesn't need any Hyacinth Buckets, thank you very much. 

Enough rant. Have a guinea pig. 


  1. I'm with you my lovely.
    When I first started out it was very much a hobby for me, but then I quickly realised that I wanted a career in Jewellery, and so to that end I enroled on a silver smithing degree which I am currently still studying for. I love bead weaving and found that I didn't want to give that up even though I was studying metal, and so I continue along both threads. To me there is no difference between the two only that I am a self taught beader and am being taught silver smithing. Nor indeed is there any difference in my mind between all of the other ways of making jewellery, be it stringing, wire work or any thing else. Every one has a right to sell their work and get the best price they can for it, and I am certainly not of the mind that 'Hobby' is taking away from 'Career'. I actually wrote an essay on this subject in the 1st year of my degree because I was so sick of the labels and snobbery. Craft, Art, Design it's all the same to me it's all beautiful in it's own way and all has something to offer. Thank you for speaking out, I felt like I was fighting a lone battle :-)

  2. Oh I forgot to say, also, I work in a jewellery gallery part time, which comprises of many contemporary jewellery makers, and not one of them makes the chains which their pendents hang from, something to consider when people are demanding that a maker make all of the parts, totally ridiculous and un-realistic

  3. Thank you so much for your comments Lynsey, it's such a relief to know that I'm not the only one who gets annoyed with this. You mention snobbery and you're absolutely right, that's exactly what it is.

  4. I absolutely agree with you, people should charge exactly what they want to charge.

  5. I'm with you too. I am a hobby crafter to and do it because I love it. If I manage to sell anything it's a bonus. That doesn't mean I haven't put as much blood sweat and tears into every piece as someone making a living out of it. In fact I'd love to be able to give up work and spend all my time crafting.......dreaming on...

  6. Thanks Sooz and Andrea. It's good to know that other people feel this way, but it's also sad that so many people have had experience of the Hyacinth Bucket crafters.