There are lots of lists of reasons to buy handmade on the internet. There are lists of 10 reasons, 20 reasons, and 101 reasons. To me, they really boil down to these four overlapping reasons:
1. The Personal Connection
When we buy something that was made by hand, we establish a direct connection with the maker, even if we never meet the person or talk with him directly. Several years ago, at a special museum showing, I was able to handle a thousand-year-old Chinese pot. Feeling the pot's weight in my hands and tracing the marks left by that ancient potter was a powerful experience because I felt that the pot was able to connect me to the unknown potter of centuries past. I believe that these connections between the maker and the user explain the attraction of handmade pottery and handmade work in general. For me, that connection is very important. It makes me happy to know that my pots have found “happy homes.” And nothing pleases me more than to get emails from customers with pictures of my pots in action, or talk to customers at shows who return year after year to buy a gift and leave with a bowl for themselves. I know that feeling! I enjoy owning and using other potters’ work in my home – from a vase, to a set of bowls, to a collection of mugs – they hold pride of place and are an endless source of inspiration.
2. The Story Behind the Pot
When you meet a potter at a show or read a description of their work online, you’re likely to hear about how a pot was made or what inspired it. There’s always a story behind the work or a point of inspiration that artisans love to share. The inspiration for the nursery lights that I make came to me many years ago when I was putting my grandson to bed. His parents had put reflective star stickers on his walls that shone in the darkness. The love that went into that first lamp for my grandson still permeates the lamps I make today.
3. The Passion of the Potter
Handmade pots transmit something of the passion and dedication of the potter. Making pots is, indeed, a huge commitment of time, energy and emotion. Dirty South Potters says “At one time, every pot we sell was the center of our universe, the object of our unwavering attention.” It is important to value the creative spirit and support artisans who put their hearts into their work. Buying handmade pottery allows us to share in the joy of creation.
4. Every Pot is Unique
Every potter has her own unique style. When faced with shelves full of blue mugs from various potters, you’re likely to find that one mug calls to you more than another. That was the mug that was meant for you! Many times, the production process will imbue that quirky character to a pot: the vagaries of the firing often result in beautiful marks that cannot be found in commercial ware. A pot with a white glaze has an inexplicable blue hue on one side because it stood too close to a blue pot in the kiln. Such a pot would not pass quality control in a commercial operation. To me, those are even more special pots as they proudly show the accidents of their birth in the fires of the kiln. So, support your local potter! Not only will you have the satisfaction of supporting the handcrafting tradition and your local economy, but you’ll bring home a one-of-a-kind piece to cherish.