Sunday, 19 January 2014

Handmade versus mass produced

The subject of handmade versus mass produced items comes up on a fairly regular basis on the Etsy forums. The responses are often emotive, with many sellers having a very clear idea of what constitutes handmade items as opposed to those products manufactured by large organisations. One comment in particular caught my eye and had me bristling

'People who use laser cutting machines are cheats!'

The remark, which the poster tried to quantify later, was in relation to those of us who use anything other than our hands to make an object. 

Needless to say, this remark gained the attention of a few hundred sellers itching for a fight. One seller asked 'If I make cupcakes but I don't mill the flour, harvest the sugar, keep chickens for the eggs etc, etc, are my cakes mass produced?'
Another seller admitted that her dresses were stitched with a sewing machine rather than by needle and thread and yet she still listed them as handmade.

So this is my question to you...where do you draw the line between handmade and mass produced?

In my opinion, everything I make is 'handmade'. No one else is involved in the process. The reason for using machinery is a matter of cost and what savings I could pass onto a customer if I sold something. Take for example the laser cut credenzas and lights that I have made.



 To my mind they are handmade in that I design a vector file, cut that file using the laser cutter, construct the object by hand using glues, jigs and clamps and then finish it with sandpaper and wax.
Would it be any more handmade if each piercing was cut with a jewelers fret saw? Maybe, but the cost of that piece would multiply considerably.
I posed the same question to the joiners where I work. Each one of them had to endure a four year apprenticeship, shadowing another tradesman and then working on their own before they were deemed a qualified joiner. Yet in the workshop, all of the dovetail joints are cut with a jointer machine, they don't hand plane wood to a desired thickness or use a chisel and mallet to cut a rebate for a door latch. They use machines specifically designed for each task. However, like me, if we had a power cut, they would revert back to the skills learned years ago.

Okay so over to you. I'm intrigued to know what you think?

Have a great weekend

=0)







71 comments:

  1. As a buyer, I consider something mass produced if it involves an assembly line and a crew of workers. I don't consider what you do to be anything other than handmade. For what that's worth.

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    1. Thanks Shelley, that was my definition too before the comment on Etsy =0/

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  2. I agree with Shelly. Mass produced is just that mass, many. Using tools is still hand made. My question is always, what about kits. Is this still hand made?

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    1. Thanks Lori, you have a good point there. Particularly for miniaturists, there are a nation of kits on sale which I'm guessing are sold by individual artisans rather than huge corporations.

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  3. I agree with Shelly too... Mass produced means thousands or hundreds of thousands released in one release... And for me it has to come from a large company or corporation too.

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    1. Thank you Heather. It's nice to hear other peoples perspective on the subject =0)

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  4. I agree with all above, mass produced that comes from a chain store or a huge global firm. Boutique line one of a kind or a very small workshop is still hand made. Quality is another matter though. Hand made can excel mass production , yet I wouldn't want to wear a hand made bra....
    Neomi

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    1. Ha-ha Neomig, so no bespoke fitted underwear for you then? ;0)

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    2. I almost commissioned custom made bras from someone who had set up shop here in Canberra: mainly because I liked the idea of having bras with one-of-a-kind Spoonflower fabrics designed by me. Also NO MORE HAVING TO FACE LINGERIE SECTIONS AT DEPARTMENT STORES! (Or am I the only person here who hates bra shopping?)

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    3. I HATE bra shopping. That would be really cool to have someone make you one out of your own fabric designs. Cool idea.

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    4. Hi Girls
      Too many years in an underwear mass production business had tought me how much machinery goes into producing a bra and how many parts this ,no allowance, garment has ( 14!)
      But this is beside the point that what you,Carol, are making is ooak even if you make 500! I guess you'll be bored sick when it comes to 10.....

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  5. Hi Pepper! Like every comment on here so far, I think mass produced means just what it says, many items produced as quickly and efficiently as possible for mass retail in the shortest time possible.
    It doesn't matter how many pieces of an item are produced by machine, if those items are then constructed by hand into a finished product, then it is hand made.
    I think the dividing line is very blurry. There's no hard and fast rule, so there will always be disagreements.
    The person who left the original comment probably just wanted to cause a stir, and I think they succeeded.
    Kind regards, Brian.

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    1. Thank you Brian. Yes, I think the poster was trolling and probably a little angry that his handmade items were not selling as fast as what he perceived as mass produced =0)

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  6. If you're the only person I can buy it from, and you designed the product and assembled it, then it's not mass produced. This is YOUR product, and I can't walk into just any mini shop and buy it. Besides, your work is not exactly something that can be produced by hand and still be affordable. Your work is an example of modern technology at its finest.

    'Cheating' might be done if you were copying an historic piece and claiming you were making it like they did three hundred years ago, yet used a laser cutter. For example my husband says he cheated when he made me a miniature katana because he didn't forge and work the metal. But that is just not something I would expect of a miniature replica.

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    1. Thank you Elaine. A very valid point. I think if the seller states that there is an element of technology in the production of the item, then they are being completely transparent about the process =0)

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  7. I think this subject will always have its agreements and disagreements no matter how much its talked about, i guess if someone likes an object enough then they will acquire it regardless.
    Best Wishes Tony.

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  8. I could write an essay on this. But to cut a long story short, I see the laser cutting machine as a tool. Handmade. I wouldn't even consider the term handcrafted for this work. You design the pattern, the machine cuts it, you are taking a short cut, and why not, its better than spending squillions of hours cutting those bits out by hand, which you could do, when a machine can do it in no time, you aren't buying a mass produced fret to make your furniture.

    This is like drawing, when people complain about using tracing paper, when I draw, I use tracing paper as an aid, because I didn't go to one of those art schools where you spend the first year drawing and shading AN EGG over and over again :D Doesn't mean necessarily that you couldn't do it, it just means you are saving time I suppose.

    This reminds me of a class in business studies from when I was in High School :D

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    1. Thank you Sarah. That's got me thinking about digital design now. To my mind, artists have to have the skills in the first place to produce something, even if they used Photoshop. I consider the tools I use as a faster and more precise way to produce an item that I've designed. But that doesn't take away the fact that I've sketched it out, worked out how it goes together and then constructed the pieces to the finished product.

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  9. Everyone has their own opinions. To me mass produced is just that...produced for the masses. What you do is most certainly hand made. I suppose you could make the same thing over and over again and make it "mass produced", but it's still your design. You are designing it, cutting the wood, gluing it, sanding it and finishing it. If that's not hand made then I don't know what is.

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    1. Thank you M4M, that was my sentiments too =0)

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  10. As not a native English speaker I checked a definition of handmade. According to free dictionary: "handmade means:made or prepared by hand rather than by machine. (Crafts) made by hand, not by machine, esp with care or craftsmanship." So according to that definition your miniatures are not handmade and in fact some of people could say it may be a bit of cheat since you use complex machines to make your miniatures. However if as you wrote above people consider handmade as opposite to mass production, then of course your miniatures are handmade. As someone who was taught English at school only I would say you should invent a word for someone who is using machines to make non mass production. ;) I agree with Tony anyway!

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    1. Thank you, I see completely why this subject is so emotive and how people perceive the definition of hand made. You make a very valid point =0)

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    2. What's funny is that definition "prepared by hand rather than by machine" was was defined before the current technology was available. It will be interesting to see how that definition changes as our lives are filled more and more with machines.

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  11. Good question and thought provoking discussion around it.

    I have pondered the logic, and rewritten this sentence a number of times and have come to the conclusion that if you use your own personal laser cuter to make the fretwork, your own saw to cut the wood etc etc then these objects are handmade. They could be better described as 'home made' but that phrase seems to carry quite negative connotations.

    If we disagree then we must also class a bag created at home, with printed fabric, zip, buttons etc from the fabric store as most definitely not handmade as there are less components included that have been created by the crafter.

    Of course, this is a great example of how technology makes existing definitions obsolete. There are similar issues around the definition of a TV program, when you can now watch it on your phone or computer, and the laws and language haven't quite caught up. Similarly, are you reading a book if it's on your electronic device and not a bound printed copy?

    I would suggest using the term 'artisan created' or something similar to skirt the issue. :-)

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    1. Thanks TSS. Etsy make the same distinction in that anyone using their own tools are 'hand making' something. The blurry line appeared when someone asked if this still applied when you had to outsource any part of the process to a company. You point about the bag came up too but in the case of a jeweler who bought all of the beads, findings, connectors from a company but believed her artistic skill in creating the necklace meant it was handmade. Good point about the definition. I think as more technology is available for hobby/home use, this point will be talked about more and more =0)

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  12. The debate as to whether machine-made goods constitute hand-made has been going on for centuries. When the Haupt Couture fashion houses used sewing machines instead of hand stitching everywhere, the purists screamed that the dresses were no longer "hand made." Certainly, today, no one believes that the use of sewing machines or ovens or refrigerators or meat grinders or flour mills means that "hand made" products are no longer possible. If they did believe that then only hand stitched clothes made with hand made needles and hand produced material and thread would be considered hand made. Further, only home-grown wheat cut by a hand made cutting implement, ground with one stone and baked in the sun would be considered hand made.

    What the Etsy machine "opponents" need to understand is hand held drills, lathes etc. are all machines. Therefore, claiming that the use of these machines is ok for producing "handmade" goods, but the use of electrified machines is not ok, makes no sense.

    There is no possible way an argument can be successful that argues machines cannot be used to produce "hand made" products. Sewing machines (even those with computers), kilns, drills, lathes, cutting machines, sanders, ovens, refrigerators, etc. etc. are all used to produce "hand made" products. Ice boxes, wood stoves, treadle sewing machines, hand driven drills and lathes, and the like, are also all machines, so using these to produce "hand made" goods is no different than using the same electrified machines. Let's finally put this argument to rest. If there is original creativity involved, it is hand made.

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    1. A very eloquent point Neen. There seemed to be a distinction between 3D printers and Laser cutters, (I think because of the fact that the items were identically made from one single file), but no mention of electric tools such as lathes and drills. Thank you for your comment. A lot of things to ponder =0)

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  13. Fique tranquila! Com absoluta certeza, o que você faz é um trabalho artezanal.
    O contrário é a produção em massa.

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    1. Muito obrigada Eliana, isso é muito reconfortante =0)

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  14. I think the problem lies in taking the term 'hand made' too literally. We need a different contrast-term to "mass production". I view the laser machine as a tool, like a drill, lathe, etc., and it is pretty clear that you are the only operator of these tools, the creator of the design, the assembler of the wood....your hands are pretty much in the object every step of the way, so yes, it certainly qualifies as "hand made" in my eyes. Neen summed it up in a way I could never :)

    IMO, forums on Etsy are filled with bitchy people who would cut off other people at their ankles just to make themselves taller. I'd rather spend my time making stuff heheheh.


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    1. Thank you Cindy. Yes, some people are expecting that hand made is exactly that. In this day and age, there are so many tools to aid design that the idea of hand made will no doubt change. I think the distinction will have to be between individual makers and companies employing multiple workers.

      I did get the impression that the poster was angry that their sales were lower than other shops who had the access to design technology =0(

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  15. I fall in love with many items designed and made by artisans and occasionally even mass produced items. I buy what I love whether they are made using machines or solely hand made. It is the design and quality of a piece I look at. I think your items are beautiful and good quality. The Shopping Sherpa has a point, maybe a new name like 'Artisan Created' could be used. However, I think sometimes we get too hung up on terminology. Artisans should take pride in their work, buyers should buy what they love, and those who feel the need to put other people's work down should just put more energy into their own work instead. There is room for items made using traditional, machine and hand worked methods. There will always be debate. It is just the nature of things. There are always blurred lines, just like the old debate of what is art and what isn't!

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I too just buy what I like the look of. Oh yes, the art/graffiti/digital work debate. I so don't want to get into that argument ha-ha =0)

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  16. The literal meaning of mass produced means making a large volume of an item. If I asked someone to make something for me with their hands and not with a machine that will punchout or "spit out" something then it is handmade. When people use a lathe they are not hand carving, but it is still "handmade" If you want to be specific and state "hand carved", "hand polished" or "hand sanded" then so be it.

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    1. Thank you Grandmommy. Very good point. I think I need to specify just what I do with my hands ;0)

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  17. Hi Pepper! Everything is written about this subject now: if someone sees a miniature or miniature work she/he likes, he just want to buy it. It does not matter if it is a mass product, or hand made! I agree with Tony and Brian about this subject, the dividing line is very blurry!
    Personally I think: your work is simply beautiful DOT!
    Ilona XX

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    1. Aww, thank you IIona. I certainly think there's a place for both hand made and mass produced. At the end of the day it comes down to choice and costs. I have bought a chair by Colin Bird that was hand made and I expect to pay the price for his skills and time. I guess as long as sellers are transparent about what their process is, then there shouldn't be a problem =0)

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  18. Are graphic designers cheating if they work on a computer instead of using pen and paper? No. Are indie fashion designers cheating if they use a pattern-grading machine instead of grading by hand? No. Am I "cheating" by using a table saw, skill saw, dremel, and electric sander to build dollhouses I consider handmade? I sure don't think I am.

    There's room in the handmade world for laser-cutting and hand-cutting. It's just another tool.

    (A couple of years ago, I did notice one Etsy seller painting mass-produced, unfinished pieces and marketing them as "handmade"...that, to me, is cheating, since she was clearly leaving most of the work to some anonymous factory worker.)

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    1. Totally agree Anna. Thank you for commenting =0)

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  19. Not that my Etsy shop has seen the light of day yet (and may never do), I do ponder the fact that according to their rules, last time I researched them, I can use my Etsy shop sell my hand-knitted mini pouffes and my hand-knitted mini 'flokati' rugs, but not the Perspex coffee, hall and dining tables I designed and got our local perpex specialists to cut and bend to my specifications.

    BUT if I bundled those tables with the pouffes and the rugs and some accessories I'd made, that would be allowable? :-S

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    1. Hi TSS, seems Etsy allow you to outsource your own design as long as the information given on the listing is transparent. Quote below from Etsy guidelines.

      'If you work with an outside manufacturer to make items that you have designed, we ask that you share additional information with Etsy and share information about the manufacturers you work with on your shop and listings. We also expect that you choose ethical manufacturing partners.
      Digital art prints and posters, music, books you have authored, and 3D printed items can be sold in the handmade category without listing the manufacturer.'

      Since you are having them made for the specific purpose of a miniature table, then this is within the guidelines =0)

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  20. For me the difference is the blood, sweat and tears that went into making the items. Knowing that with utmost concentration, the tip of your tongue sticking out, you came up with an idea, learned how to make it (most probably through trial and many errors) and finally came up with something you are proud of enough to sell. That's handmade to me. Whether you lasered off half you fingernails in the process with a fancy machine or not, doesn't diminish the handmade factor to me.
    X
    Véronique

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    1. Thank you Veronique, I share your views =0)

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  21. Hello Pepper,
    I have noticed laser cut pieces have an accurateness that hand work often cannot achieve...not to mention some pieces are so small they would break if not for the laser. Laser is a wonderful technology that permits people to make even better quality miniature work. To dismiss it or not use it is quite simply STUPID! I do not care how the work gets done...it is the final piece that counts. I do dislike people who do not attune to the times...a very bad habit of many miniaturists!
    Big hug,
    Giac

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    1. Hi Giac, I think technology is a wonderful way to stretch the boundaries of miniatures. I couldn't dream of doing such intricate work with a hand saw. It would take me sooo long and even then the finished product would be nowhere near as good as the laser cutter =0)

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  22. I think it's a non issue..the people you hear screaming about "I only want handmade items in my house (dollhouse..ect)." are the same people you see tossing a cigerette on the road or drinking out of a plastic water bottle or using disposable diapers. they want to appear Holier than thou but when you peek behind the curtain they're just selling wolf tickets. if they dont want to buy it because it's not up to their standard ..who cares they're not the boss of you they put their butt on the pot just like everyone else

    have a great day :)
    Marisa

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    2. Hi Marisa, I love the phrase 'Wolf Tickets' I'm not sure what it means but I like it! =0D

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  23. This is the exact reason that I don't have an etsy shop. It's pretty clear the original angry comment is from a person who spends a lot of time on their items that is getting undercut by people using modern tools more efficiently to lower their prices and likely increase their quality. Your laser cutter is allowing you to create amazing precise designs of the highest quality at affordable prices. You own your laser cutter and it is a tool that is all handled by you without any outsourcing, designed by your hands and assembled by your hands. 100% falls into handmade category.

    Like you, I create my designs on the computer. I can't afford a 3D printer and polisher so I have to outsource the production of my miniatures. I know there is a TON of 3D printed jewelry listed on etsy as handmade, but I'm torn by this because their work and mine is a stones throw away from being mass produced. If a distributor contacted me tomorrow and said I want to order 500 sets of your miniature desk accessories or modern vases, the company I use would be ecstatic and they could ramp up production and my work would be mass produced.

    Even though I spend hours designing my miniatures, my ideas are handmade but the actual miniature products are mass produced, so I'm at a loss how to call it handmade. I've avoided an etsy shop because of this. 3D printing allows me to make and sell items at such higher quality and lower prices than if I had made them myself out of wood or plastic molds. Maybe if I owned my own 3D printer and polisher I would consider it handmade because with just one machine and one person I wouldn't be able to ramp up production for a 500 piece order so I would never be at a mass production level. I don't know. I would love other people's feedback on where 3D printing falls into the handmade category. Here are the miniatures I make all outsourced to a 3D printer: http://modernminihouses.com

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    1. To me, a 3D printer is just another tool. As long as a 3D printed item is designed by one person (or a VERY small team of designers), I'll consider it handmade.

      (Full disclosure: I'm waiting for 3D printing technology to develop to the point where I can 1. afford a printer, and 2. easily design and print things like "wrought iron" spiral staircases and fully functioning, Rococo-style doors and windows. Components like that are very expensive, and I'm nowhere near good enough to make them by hand.)

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    2. Interestingly, Etsy's policy on 3d printing is this
      'You do not need to fill out an About Your Manufacturers form for the following forms of production: photography, digital art prints and posters, music (such as CDs or vinyl), books (in which you are the author, not book-related art or items), and 3D printing'

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  24. For me, even if you use a laser cutter, you are still making an handmade item. Even if I use a Dremel to help me getting the perfect shape or the perfect finish, doesn't mean that the item was not handmade!! A mass produced item is so when you put a piece of wood (let's say wood for example) on one side of the machine and after one minute, the piece of wood comes out from the other side of the machine, as a chair or table or whatever that is!!! How can people say that items are not handmade because somebody uses a laser cutter??? I mean...seriously?? You still have to go through some steps in order to get your piece done and finished!! You still have to cut the wood, guide the laser, glue the piece (as you said)....this is nonsense!! A laser cutter is just another tool that helps you accomplish what you want to do. I would still see an item made with any type of "tool", even if this tool is big and expensive, an handmade item!! Thanks a million for following me!! I do appreciate it a lot!! Hugs <3

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    1. Thank you Simona, that's how I see it. I don't understand why anyone would see a difference between say, a laser cutter and an electric scroll saw. They pretty much do the same thing except one is controlled entirely by the maker, the other follows a file designed by the maker *shrugs*
      Btw, glad I found your blog. You make some mad designs in felt. Very cool!

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  25. I agree your laser cut items are still handmade because it is your vision and your assembly product, not a factory or assemly line of workers making the same thing over and over. Even if you repeatedly made these, they are still your original vision and in my mind, all handmade items.

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    1. Thanks Brae. I think anyone who has ever designed something from scratch and followed a process (electrified or not) to make the item, gets it *nods*

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  26. I don't view the use of the laser cutter to cut the front of your credenzas any differently than if I found out you used a table saw to cut the fronts and backs....it's just a tool YOU used to make YOUR design come to life.

    Now I'm pondering if, at my job, I had to add millions of figures in my head instead of using excel...yikes!

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    1. Oh my word..could you imagine a world without technology? Imagine not having a computer and the access to other blogs - sitting in your own little part of the world making miniatures? Pretty drab reality =0/

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  27. I agree with you 100%, laser cut items are still handmade. It's only a tool that allows us to get accuracy and time saving. Thanks for that interesting post.
    Patrick

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    1. Thank you Patrick. I appreciate your input =0)

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  29. Let's side step the handmade versus mass produced issue because it is simply not accurate. That is because one can in their own workshop with their own hands hand craft a thousand miniature objects in a month. You don't have to work in a factory to know how to use jigs and efficient production methods.

    My opinion on laser cut pieces. If you are making a replica of an object that is of a certain historic period then it needs to have the finished surface qualities of that era. Any miniature piece or other small object representing a real piece made prior to about 25 years ago should not have any burn marks on it. Only modern laser cut full size furniture and objects should have the same laser cut look in miniatures. I don't care how someone cuts a piece, I just care what it looks like when it is presented as a completed project. That means don't be showing me your laser cut piece of 1:48 Victorian style furniture if you have not bothered to remove the burn marks off the edges. I will be very underwhelmed by it. I don't mind that it was laser cut, I mind that it was not properly finished.

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    1. Hi Karin, thank you for the very interesting perspective. I think in the case of finishing an item, there are those who are making things as quickly as possible without any regard for the integrity of the piece or it's history. I would like to think that anyone who had any genuine respect for the historical accuracy in their miniatures, would strive for perfection on that score =0)

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  30. I'm not a native speaker as well, so perhaps my words aren't as condensed as could be. But this matter, new available technology, and what attitude one should take to it, is close to my heart. Your question is an intelligent one, cos the world is not static and evolves continuously so we need to think about it.

    I have to say I sympathize with many sentiments already stated, especially Neen's. A few years ago I attended a seminar about CNC mills in relation to making miniatures. I noticed 2 camps were forming pretty quick during the lecture; one were a group of young people, seemingly open minded and raising valid questions & arguments, just like most above have posted too. The other group seemed a bit older, and reacted offended to using the term hand-made in relation to modern day tools. It seemed they were scared their skills would be worthless with new developments? As I was listening to the discussion I fantasized this kind of talk must have been going on for ages now. Like the hand seamstress's opposing the sewing machine.

    What it comes down to (for me) is if we are able to recognize 'a tool' does nothing on it's own, whether it's a hamer or a 3-d printer. There is shift in skills and competence needed to use these new tools, sure, but the design stage and creativity to absorb the world, transform that, and then create whatever it is you want to make is still the same.

    On the other hand; I know a silversmith who has turned away from his trade because he felt modern techniques like CNC milling wax forms, which later get cast, took away from what he loved doing so much. And that was 'working' the material. The results he produced were 'too perfect' if you get what i mean. And I can understand his reaction because a large part of my appreciation of 'hand made' objects are the fact they are not that perfect, they show the hand that made them and thus have 'personality'. A vague term perhaps, but I hope you understand.

    This subject matter can be taken very wide and go all over the place. But I believe that in the confined field of miniatures there should be limited concern. Cos no matter how well a 3-d printer can create a swirling staircase banister representing wrought iron, you still have to position it and mount it in such a way it matches the high detailing of that same railing. So I'd sooner embrace the possibilities of new tools, and see what amazing miniatures you can make with them! hand made :)

    Pff, sorry, long reply

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    1. Thank you Debora. You speak far better English than I could ever speak Dutch, so I consider your opinion intelligently stated. It's strange to think that the older group at the seminar felt that their skills would be worthless with new developments because I feel, if anything, that those people deserve the utmost respect for honing their skills and creating miniatures without the aid of technology. It rather reminds me of older people in my community who regard computers as a waste of time. It isn't until they realise how technology can help them (online shopping/banking/paying bills) that they embrace the idea. In one way I am glad to be a part of the development of computer aided design. In another, I fear traditional techniques will be lost, and that is a subject very dear to my heart. As for the Silversmith - I'm very sad that he felt so strongly as to give up his profession. In my view, and if money were no object I would chose something made by hand, from the very basic of materials any day of the week.

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  31. Interesting thread! To me anything described as handmade is something the seller (or whoever made the item) has made by themselves, or as part of a small, cottage industry type scenario, whether they're used the tools of their trade such as a sewing machine, lathe, etc, or without tools at all; so, basically not mass produced is my definition. http://labonnevie72.weebly.com/

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    1. Thanks AJ, I'm glad you pitched in because I was thinking of how this subject represented you as a modeler. Despite using kits, I would still describe what you do as handmade because the skills in bringing the model to life are in your hands. I think the dividing line for handmade is clearly who made it and not with which tool =0)

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  32. Lots of comments and wish I could read every one of them as I'm sure my point of view has been already voiced. But by defination, "mass produced" means assembly line type produced and not limited edition or OOAK objects. That you use a laser tool (or any tool for that matter - even a dremel) is of no consequence. Mass implies many and therefore, making 10 or more of one object is not really MASSive, is it? By the way, love that lamp ! Is it on Etsy?

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  33. Hi Pepper, although I can understand the sentiment from the opponents, I absolutely agree with you and others here. I also think that it can make our work so much better, and being able to use our time more efficiently and achieving a higher quality at the same time. Wether it's with the use of tools or machines.

    I love to be able use all that this day and age has to offer actually, to bring what I do with my hands to a better, more realistic result. I for one LOVE printing decals for example or use other printing techniques to enhance my possibillities of realism. And I'm always thinking about ways to make what I make (for future projects and the intention to someday sell stuff) less timeconsuming, therefore more affordable and with a better endresult at the same time. Does that mean I am less creative or I use my hands less? I don't think so, I just use my hands in a different way, for differents parts of a process. And it still takes a looong time... Like you said (and/or others) it's a way of making things you could impossibly do without the tools we use.

    I consider machines like a laser cutter a tool. It's like a sewingmachine: it's the hands that determine the outcome of the work, some people sew beautifully on a sewingmachine, others make it look like a steamer went over the fabric and the stitches are all over the place: in other words: it's the hands that make the product! Or it would take forever and therefore be inaffordable, like mentioned. Although that argument doesn't determine if something is handmade of course, but I think is a very valid consideration.

    And I'm a pretty conventional persion, I'm always the last to have new inventions or see the profit of them (was the last with a mobile phone, smartphone, using whatsapp etc). But always try to see why others think it's great and if your open to that, understanding it follows mostly (doesn't - obviously - always mean I want to have or use everything myself). And sooner or later (increasingly sooner with every new invention I must say) I get enthousiastic and think about ways of being able to use it to my advantage. Be it from bying a lathe or kiln or by using something somewhere else (i.e. outsourcing, like lasercutting) because it would be ineconomical or unaffordable to have a machine like that for myself.

    So, in short: I happily embrace all new possibillities modern times give us! :D

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  34. Something I thought of later: if I'm correct pretty much everyone considers a garment sewn by hand instead of a sewingmachine handmade. I guess they use fabricmade fabric? Or would they weave and/or paint it by hand too? I think using fabric from a factory to make something by hand is the same thing as using a lasercut panel. But with the difference that you don't buy the panels like the fabric is bought, but make them yourself with a machine after numerous steps with your hands. So I think your work is more handmade than a handsewn dress where the fabric is comparable to your panels.

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  35. Dumdidum, can't resist to add a bit of my opinion (without reading the 70 existing comments)

    I'm with you. I don't think laser-cut makes it less handmade. UNLESS you sell only a laser cut piece (so not an assembled piece). If you only draw the design and let it cut by a laser, that would be manufactured, as at no point in your work you're actually using your hands.

    I had some similar wonderings at the beginning with using molds for polymer clay. But as I make the prototype, then make a mold, then use it and still work on the product extracted from the mold, I still see it as handmade.

    Handmade is basically the moment you use your hands to assemble things your designed OR things you bought (in which case of course the assembling involves more than gluing 2 parts together).
    Also I think "handmade" has to do with "skill". You could make it all from scratch, but that would be time consuming and idiotic. (like buying eggs and flour instead of having chicken and milling the flour yourself).

    Cheers :)

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