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Written by Brownlee Currey


You know that new thing that just arrived? That lamp, chandelier, or vase which was just unpacked? There is something you may not be considering: someone, more likely than not, made it by hand. This is true of so many things that we buy: clothing, shoes, jewelry, and most home furnishings. For most of these items, our first response when we look at them is not “I bet that was made by hand”. Home furnishings manufacture in particular, is in most ways a handcraft business. And by handcraft that we mean “crafted by hands” often with less machinery involved than you might think.

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That lampshade you have? A worker carefully tucked the fabric around that frame and then hand sewed in the lining. It probably took her about two hours, more, if she made the trim herself.

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That beautifully decorated vase that just came? While often pottery is cast into a plaster mold, the decoration is always applied by hand. Those designs were scratched into the clay by hand, and then the color applied by steady, steady hands, with a brush.

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Those new wooden floor lamps that just came in? The wood was turned on a lathe, and then given to a carver to shape. Those wavy lines and slightly uneven surface were left behind by his tools, markings that, no machine can replicate.

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That iron chandelier which was just installed? It took a lot of people to put that together. Different pairs of hands, bent the iron, forged the details, cleaned up the joints and welded it all together. Other hands painstakingly drew wire through it. More hands prepped, primed and painted. Perhaps, very skilled hands applied gold leaf. Other hands connected the electrical workings. It could be that another applied crystal, or other details. And a last, careful set of hands packed that chandelier.

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The wonder of all of this handwork is to be found in all of the detail it provides to the objects that surround us. Perhaps, the most remarkable aspect of all this, is that handwork can provide such remarkable levels of consistency. Personally, I think this speaks to the care, skill and dedication of the craftspeople making our products.

Most walk into a room and see the stuff, furniture, rugs, perhaps lighting. I would challenge you to walk into the same room and see all the talented people that made it possible.

All images courtesy of Brownlee Currey

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