Lisbeth Darsh: Handmade

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 1.05.00 PMNothing beats handmade. You would think after all these years of industrial advancements, handmade would be an expired moniker, a description of bad quality, something to be avoided.  But it’s not. Handmade continues to be superior often and in many ways.

Now, I’m not saying that everything should be handmade. Some things have a need for uniformity that might not lend themselves to the individuality and (sometime) imperfections of handmade. Jet engine parts come to mind. I used to investigate jet crashes when I was in the U.S. Air Force. I don’t want handmade jet engine parts.

But food, soap, bicycles, clothing, and many other items can often be made more amazing by a human being investing their personal time and craftsmanship. Think about that: the more that humans get personally involved in production, the longer time for production, but often a resultant increase in quality.

That’s crazy and yet totally understandable at the same time. The fact that we would think otherwise is the result of our years of orientation to an industrial mindset. When we are in school, we study the Industrial Age and think it has an ending point (some argue that the Industrial Age ended when the Information Age started) but really we’re still in it — and so we have this orientation that machines can do things better. But often machines cannot.

Take a look at the Smith Machine. When that hit gyms, many thought it was a fantastic piece of equipment — you can squat in the machine! Now we know its foibles, and we’ve gone back to good old squat racks. Pick the bar up. Move it on your own. Ditto on weight machines, motorized treadmills, ellipticals, etc.

The entire functional fitness movement is a return to handmade of sorts. Yes, we use mass-produced barbells and wall-balls and kettlebells, but nothing beats personal coaching, even in a group. No app beats it. No video. No book. Human hands to correct, and human voices to inform. Human hearts to love. Your fitness is handmade, when you really think about It.

So why am I talking about the glories of handmade items? Because good things take time. Quality takes attention. And handmade is worth it. Today we use the term “artisanal” when we want a fancy way to say handmade in a traditional way. So last Friday night, my redheaded son Sam and I kicked up our feet and worked our way through the latest flavors of Steve’s Artisanal Paleo Jerky. And I’m here to tell you: nothing beats handmade.Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 12.29.18 PM



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