I sometimes wonder just how insane we all are.
One minute we are moaning because our markets are flooded with crappy junk made in a sweatshop in some remote province of a far flung, non-democratic country, and the next minute, we are outraged at the price of things and wanting a cheaper option (which brings us back to option 1 – crappy junk).
Why am I even writing about this? Probably because, as a designer, I find some people are outraged at spending real money on my skills, but they want originality, perfection and creativity at sweatshop prices.
Quality is expensive. Because more often than not, quality comes with craftsmanship and an emotional committment to a vision that goes beyond mass manufacturing. This means that it was not made by child slaves or the down trodden masses in a factory. Someone painstakingly thought of, designed, developed and made the item. They actually used their hands… you know, those things on the ends of your arms, most often used for holding the phone and tweeting!
Here are a few favouritesl:
1. Jonathan’s spoons . I came across Jonathan’s spoons at a craft market in Morristown, New Jersey and have been an avid fan ever since. Not only do his hand crafted wooden utensils look wonderful, they are ergonimically designed and are just wonderful to work with. He also creates utensils for lefthanded people. You might wonder how a spatula might be left or right handed, but in his case the angle at the end is tilted one way or the other. My favourites are the cat-tail spatula, the folding wooden tongs and of course, the lazy spoon! I have had to exercise severe self- discipline not to buy at least two of each design… one day, one day!
2. Victorian Garden Organic Skin products Although this range originated way back when in Victorian England with a recipe book for skin products, it migrated to South Africa where the woman who inherited the book started making the products by hand. They are now manufactured to her hand-made standards by a bigger company, but Linsay Salthouse’s hands are still firmly on the wheel of this brand, developing new ranges and ensuring the integrity of her company name. I like the New Zealand distributor’s website and knowledge of natural remedies. My favourite products are the Vanilla and Mango Scrub and the Vanilla and Mango Body Butter. They smell so good, you are tempted to taste them! The Rose and Geranium range is divine too. What the heck, try them all and pick your own favourites!
3. Dear Jane Quilts – I had never heard of the Dear Jane quilt until a friend of mine started to make one. Jane Stickle completed her quilt during the American Civil War. The year embroidered on her quilt is the same year Lincoln made his famous Gettysburgh Address – 1863. The amazing thing about the quilt is that each of the 169 blocks is different. Any quilter attempting their own version would have to cut 5,602 different pieces of fabric. The original resides in the Bennington Museum in Vermont, but there are Janiacs (as opposed to Janites who are fans of Jane Austen) all over the world that use the pattern to create quilts of breathtaking beauty. These quilts are called Baby Janes as they are offspring of the original Jane Stickle quilt. My favourite quilter is Leslie Morgan Crowley whose Baby Jane is entitled Woman in Transition (shown above) and was exhibited at the City Quilter’s “Jane in the City” exhibition and is the feature quilt of the Bernina blog about the exhibition. Leslie is not a full-time quilter, and her Baby Jane quilt took 10 years to complete, a time frame that totally blows my mind. Apart from the mouthwatering colours – I just love the delicious little surprises Leslie created at the back of her piece.
There was no instant gratification for any of the creators of these items. They all involved planning, design, painstaking attention to detail and hard work. And most of all, love.