I’ve been conflicted lately because I’ve seen a lot of things online which say that when you’re writing a description for a product, you should only write about what the product will do for the customer and how it will make them feel. These instructions almost always say that customers don’t care about you (the artisan) and they don’t want to hear about you. I wonder though, if these are meant to apply to creators of handcrafted items. When something is made by hand, the artist and their process are important, and I think that a customer would want to know.
For me personally, I like to know how an item was made, and I like knowing something about the person who made it. I enjoy hearing about what their inspiration was, how they did the work, and it can even be interesting to know the trials that they faced during the creation of a piece. For me, that makes the item even more special. I know that there’s a part of someone’s heart and soul in that item, and that makes it more special than anything that could have come off an assembly line.
I would think that knowing how something is made and all of the work that goes into it would be meaningful to a buyer. Maybe you’re looking at an item and you think that $50 is too high, but then you read about what it took to make it, and suddenly you realize that it’s worth every penny, and probably more. Maybe you never realized how complex a thing is, or how something comes together, but once you do, it seems that much more special. Perhaps knowing the origin of the components makes a piece a little more interesting or personally valuable. No matter how I look at it, it seems to me that knowing about the artist and the creation process would add value to the finished work.
It can be easy to forget, or not even think about, all the work that goes into a handcrafted item. So much of what we own is made by machines or cheap labor, we can forget that a real person with love and creativity is behind something that we’re looking to purchase. It takes them time and effort and so much more to create that thing. It’s not just plopped out of a machine, it’s actually an extension of the person who made it.
Just as a for instance, I know a few people think that my goddess dolls are kind of expensive. Here’s the thing though… First I had to invent the pattern. I didn’t buy it, I made it up out of my own head and it took a few days of trial and error to get it right. After I got the pattern right, I had to make the first doll. Once she was made, I had to figure out how to decorate her. I’d never done that kind of thing before, so it was all a new learning process. Once I knew what to do, I had to replicate it. It takes about 5 hours just to crochet all of the parts for one of those dolls. Then I have to sew them all together. Then I have to measure and cut all of the hair and put it in, one strand at a time. That takes another hour or more. Then I have to cut and attach the facial features, and craft and add the jewelry. That’s at least another hour. Oh, and I have to think about what the colors of the doll represent, then choose stones that match that magical energy so that every part of the doll has the same meaning. It takes time to think about that and choose the right pieces. So to make one of those dolls, we’re talking about around 7-8 hours of work and thought and effort.
When you think about it that way, you can easily see that my prices are very low, and that each of those dolls is a beautiful work of art with a lot of meaning. What’s more, there’s a story behind why I created my own pattern and why I’m making the dolls in the first place.
I believe that if people really knew what went into something, it would mean a lot more to them. Sometimes there isn’t much of a story behind a piece, but sometimes there is. I suppose those stories can be put in a blog rather than on the item description, but it is something that people should know.
So what do you think? When you’re buying a handcrafted item, do you want to know about the artist and the creation process and the inspiration for the piece? Do you think that information should be on the product page, or on their blog? Do you feel that it makes an item more special when you know what went into it, or would you prefer that the artisan keep themselves out of it and treat it like it’s a mass manufactured thing? Share your feelings!