The Labor of Creativity and Making

I recently read an article talking about the importance of labor and finding ways to express our creativity through what we make or build.  It made me think about the importance of creativity and making for those of us that build, make or create items that are very personal and/or have an artistic touch to them.  Many people have jobs where they make something.  You can work in a factory where you build electronic devices or make a food product, but how many people get to work in a business where they make something extremely personal or something that takes fine craftsmanship?

Leather money clip with oak leaf carving
Leather money clip with oak leaf carving designs.

While many people have daily jobs where they work in a factory and make something or a part of something, the jobs where people have true craftsman skills are much fewer and far between these days.  For the most part, when things are made these days it’s in a mass production, factory oriented environment designed to efficiently make hundreds or thousands of a particular item.  Often that item isn’t made to last a lifetime.  It is functional but has a designed obsolescence and you will need to replace it in a few years.  No thought is given to repairing it.  If something goes wrong you replace it.

There used to be many crafts and trades that operated in a town and made products that were used locally by the people of the area.  Those makers made the whole product from start to finish and they were judged on the quality and skill of that finished product.  Their creativity came into play in the artistry or personalization they could build into the final product. Creativity and making went hand in hand. This was true if they were the local baker, a blacksmith, a shoe maker or someone from my industry, a leather worker.  Just over a century ago, every town had someone who worked with leather and made harnesses or saddles for horses, because most work and transportation was done with horses.  Someone who was skilled with leather was needed to build and maintain all that gear the horses needed.

Now those kind of skilled jobs are rare.  You still find them in the construction trades (think carpenters and the like) but there aren’t that many jobs where an individual’s creativity and skill can be expressed in what they make.  It’s something that is much rarer to find these days than it would have been a century ago.  I feel lucky that I have my business as a way of expressing my artistic side and hand making items that are unique and often crafted for a specific individual..  It’s something that I feel very fortunate to be able to do, and it connects me to a time where a maker’s skill and craftsmanship were a badge of honor.  I like to think it is still one today.