What Does Handmade Mean to You?

What does handmade mean to you? There are so many answers and interpretations of this question. Does it mean all components of a piece are hand made by the artist? How do we break this down? Does a painter need to make their own inks? Does a goldsmith need to forge their own ingots? Can designs be outsourced? Manufactured? 

We all have different definitions of what handmade means and all artists need to decide how it applies to them and their work.  For me, it means I craft the majority of the components in my jewelry.  I hand saw, file and solder rings, set stones in bezels, and rivet pendants and bails.  I use produced chain and clasps to make necklaces more affordable. I buy pre-drilled gemstones and cabochons from lapidary artists and trusted gemstone sources.  

As my goldsmith skills grow I'm using less and less produced elements in my work.  This is an integral part of the new direction I'm taking JarosDesigns.  When you buy my jewelry you are supporting a tradition of hand crafted jewelry that dates back centuries.  You are buying jewelry crafted at my bench, by my hands. 

I've been thinking about the nature of the term handmade in light of the new market standards on Etsy.  They have recently removed the handmade requirement for goods to be sold - from their Seller Guidelines "Handmade items are designed and created by the shops that sell them. Because transparency matters on Etsy, we ask sellers to list shop members and share information about manufacturers involved in creating their items."  

Without a strong vetting process, this change has allowed a flood of manufactured and produced goods onto the site. No longer are search results full of one of a kind pieces or handcrafted goods. We are bombarded with factory made, often cheap knockoffs of products we could find in a store, or on Alibaba.com. The sellers are no longer necessarily the artists or designers, which breaks the fundamental relationship they were trying to create between patron and artist. This takes away the truly special nature of the Etsy community. 

I respect artists whose work is so stunning and so marketable, that they need to outsource production to grow their business. I think this is commendable.  But I don't feel factory produced goods belong on a site once dedicated to the handmade movement.  Moving in this direction combined with a lack of vetting on Etsy's part has led to a deluge of products I don't want to buy or be associated with.   There are still amazing shops on Etsy, but they are now so hard to find.

In light of these changes, I'm launching my own website.  I'm excited to welcome you to this new place where I hope to blog regularly, share techniques and new tools, and launch new handmade metalsmith jewelry.  Though my Etsy site will remain open I will be updating this store more regularly and to celebrate I'm offering a coupon code for Free First Class Shipping for the holiday season.  Just enter HAPPYHOLIDAYS at checkout and receive free international shipping this entire holiday season, starting today!

I hope you'll join me on this new journey! If you have any problems shopping on this site, please feel free to contact me at jarosdesigns@gmail.com.  I'd love to know what you think!