Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The importance of good craftsmanship

That is a really boring title.  But hopefully what I have to say is not boring.

My mom came to visit last week and was wearing a cute necklace by a mass manufacturer.  "Oh this?  I've had it forever, I just never wore it before."

By the end of the 2 hour visit, the glass heart in the center had fallen out.  I offered to fix it for her (what good is it to be a jeweler if you can't fix your mama's jewelry?) but she said, "Oh this wasn't expensive, don't worry about fixing it if you don't have time."

 Garden marker by MonkeysAlwaysLook

WHAT?!  No matter how little something costs, you should be able to expect to wear it a few times without it coming apart.  But it started me thinking about hand crafted work vs. mass manufactured work.

Once I started my own business selling jewelry made with my own hands, I started to seek out a higher quality of merchandise for myself and my family.  Whether it was a coffee table or a new rug, I found that instead of going for cheap and not caring if something broke I felt much better buying handmade, hand crafted, heirloom quality items.  I know it's a tough economy, and things are tight over here in Metaliciousland, but I'm finding that I don't have to replace things when I go for high quality from the beginning.  It costs more right now, but when I still have it in 5 years it is actually saving me money because I don't have to replace it each year, or every 2 years. 

Our coffee table from a large manufacturer lasted 6 months before the leg started to wobble so badly we needed a new table ASAP.  So I paid 2x the amount of that coffee table for a hand crafted, USA made, beautiful solid wood coffee table. AND we were able to work directly with the artist to get the size we needed.  He was super nice, delivered it in person and it made me feel good to support another artist's business.  A year and a half later and it's still beautiful and solid even though my 2 boys and 2 cats give it a daily workout.  It still holds up my feet at the end of the day, no wobbles.  I have no doubt it will last for years.
This is in our entryway from RecycledBrooklyn.

So reason #1 to buy handmade, high quality items?  It saves you money.

Reason #2 to buy handmade, high quality items?  You're supporting a real, live person.  And his/her family.  Who will in turn support their local people, and their families.  And so on... 

And reason #3 for buying handmade, high quality items?  Customization.  You can have whatever your heart desires if you just ask.  You get real person, who gets back to you in real time, who takes pride in and loves what they do and it will show in how your item is made, how they communicate with you and the longevity and quality of the piece.

So before you go to your big-box retailer please consider buying handmade first.  It's good for all of us!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Every year, for 10 years, this date still makes me catch my breath.  I worked about 20 blocks from the Twin Towers, and lived close enough to where I worked that I could walk there in 5 minutes.  That morning I stood in the middle of Varick Street staring South taking pictures of the first burning tower, as the 2nd plane hit.  Our boss told us to come inside where it was safe, we had no idea what it all meant, or what it would come to mean.  The panic, the bewilderment, the terror, the heartache all unfolded as the whole world watched those beautiful icons and the almost 3,000 people trapped inside crumble before our eyes.  My city, my country, the whole world had changed in the blink of one sunny September morning.  The heartache is still palpable, the people are still gone, the war is still going.

I've never written down what happened that day, it's not necessary, I'm alive and that is more than enough.  I still cringe whenever I hear a low flying plane, but was a horrific day for everyone, whether you were here in the city or not.  Everyone remembers where they were, wherever they were, when the towers were hit.  My heart goes out to people who lost loved ones in the attack, almost 3,000 brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandfathers, grandmothers died that day.  That grief will never ease.

We all lost something that day, and I, for one remain shaken.  I can't forget that day, and I can't forget the sacrifices of all the people who fought that day and are fighting still to this day.  I am forever thankful to everyone who has given their life, and continues to put their life on the line for me, for my country, for my children's future.  And amid the devastation I have learned that resilience is the single best thing about being human.