Tuesday, November 17, 2009

handmade vs homemade?

Is it just me or do you assume when you are buying something on Etsy or Madeit that is being sold as handmade - so you assume the person selling it actually made it with their own hands? I do. Well I did.

A friend recently told me that her friend sells on Madeit but she doesn't actually make anything herself- she has it made very cheaply- locally- by someone else- then adds on quite a few bucks and sells in on Madeit? Do you think this is wrong or is it just me??

I think this is really dishonest. On her shopfront she states that everything is made in ( where she lives) and it is- but not by her.  As far as I am concerned handmade is home made by the person selling it. The whole beauty of buying something on these sites, I think, is that you are buying something from the actual artist/ creator themselves?
I know the flipside of this is that she is able to provide work for someone locally which of course is great .. I don't know... I don't like it but there is not really anything I can do, I don't actually want to do anything about it I am just intersted in what others think.


  1. I am nodding, nodding, nodding and completely agree with you.

  2. I'm nodding emphatically with you and Nikki. And it doesn't make me feel any better that someone is employed doing the making. Everyone knows the whole crafty selling thing requires a good dash of heart and soul and this sort of thing just takes EVERY bit of the joy out of buying home/handmade.

  3. I had suspected this for a while. It makes me really cross.
    Everything I make has a little piece of me in it. That's the reason that I buy handmade. I don't think it's right that they are able to sell on places on Madeit and Etsy. Personally I feel that it shouldn't be allowed, anyone found doing this should not be allowed to sell on these sites anymore.

  4. Hmm, an interesting posting. I'm wondering why they aren't out there selling there own creativity (the people who are making the stuff really cheap)? Maybe they don't have access to a computer/internet...or aren't interested in doing that...maybe they don't know how much their creativity is worth on the 'handmade' market?

  5. This makes me want to email the person this woman employs and tell then to put their stuff on Etsy and avoid this middle-woman. I totally agree with you that this is wrong.

  6. I too am nodding and agreeing. Very frustrating....I have been stuck at my machine for days keeping my shop open and filling orders. And haven't been to bed before midnight for the past 2 weeks! Very unfair and misleading, there are so many of us busting our buts grrrr

  7. I discovered that sellers use this alternate 'handmade' method whilst reading a 'quit your day job' series on etsy. Whilst it appears that Etsy doesn't discourage this, I am not sure what their policy is on someone that gets their stuff mass produced overseas, and then sells it on. What is the difference between hand-made in another country, or employing someone in your town to 'help' produce your product (they have sat down in their own home and handmade it), supporting a local person, who is also helping your own business grow.
    At some point a lot of us have to make a decision whether to stay home crafter or turn a idea into a business one.
    Whilst I make everything myself, there are days when I also didn't have so much pressure....
    But it seems the whole point of Etsy is to support individuals and their crafts, not open up a flood gate of quasi crafters.

  8. I suspected this for a while about sellers who don't explicitly state the work is their own. I wasn't sure what others thought so I put a declaration up front and centre on my Etsy shop stating that everything in my shop is made with my own two little hands.

    Playing devils advocate here, I guess it gives the online buyers access to handmade stuff that they wouldn't have otherwise had ie. someone in Chicago can't go to our local markets. If the local maker doesn't sell online, I guess it's OK from that perspective. I just hope it is an honest transaction and the maker knows about the onselling.

  9. I agree! I would have thought made it would have had a strict policy to weed out these 'designers' or at least ensure their stalls are clearly labeled as such.

  10. I thought the rules were it had to be made by you to list on these sites anyway ! I do get someone to help me sew when I get snowed under, they have no creative input and basilly sew the straight seems to help me catch up! I pay them a good hourly rate and dont sell those particular things on esty or made it either!

  11. I had NEVER thought of people selling things on these sites that aren't there own. Where's the fun in that?

  12. i completely agree, thank you for opening my eyes on this, If i was to buy something now that is handmade i will have to ask if they made it, and if the answer is no, then write again to get the original designer to verify that this work is meant to be used in this way. If i get no joy i won't buy it.

  13. oh, this makes me sad :(
    mostly for the people who arent being paid enough for their wares, and also for the 'sellers' who think its ok to take the credit.
    we bust our creative toosh to bring great quality, unique, hand/homemade with LOVE goods to these sites and i dont think its fair to exploit that.

  14. Oh :( I have never even thought about this before, I just assumed that everyone who had a store made it themselves. How disappointing.

    And I agree with everyone else. We work our butts off (especially this time of year!) to get through our orders, some of us have day jobs, some of us have kids at home to look after... The fact that someone can buy elsewhere, pop up on madeit and then watch the dollars roll in, well, that just doesn't sit right with me. It feels deceptive.

  15. Is she making some of it herself, and then just getting the other person to help her?

    Or is it her design or pattern and she's getting the other person to make it on her behalf?

    This used to be a widely debated topic at art school. Many many artists don't make their own work. They come up with the idea, and concept, design it, and oversee the production.
    The topic always polarized the classes.

    I myself used to work for a ceramic artist.

    I actually get much much more offended by people that farm Etsy for ideas, think to themselves I could make that, and then do. Basing their whole business on other peoples ideas. That to me is cheating! And it's rife!

    AND You see many Etsy sites where people make coasters or notebooks using other peoples illustrations on them. I'm assuming they have the artists' consent, but still????

  16. Very interesting.

    I think that what can be homemade, should be homemade. But, there is a diverse range of 'handmade' loveliness available on these sites, and to say everything should be handmade at home, would cut out a huge chunk of what people are allowed to make and then as a result what people are allowed to buy. For example, I don't think it is practical for all the people who make perspex jewelry to have a laser cutting machine or those who take photographs to have their own lab. Should these 'designed' things not be available?

    Etsy has different categories for non-handmade things (vintage and supplies) maybe they could include a new one called 'designed'.

  17. oops, I meant to say.... 'there are days when I wish I didn't have so much pressure'
    completely self-imposed of course!

  18. MMMM, interesting.
    I agree - did not realise this was going on

  19. Great feed back you got from your question.
    I agree with you too, it's horrible to think that someones work you admire and daydream about them sitting at home making this beautiful work only to find out it was made by an unknown living down the road from them.
    But what can we do?

  20. Really interesting, I always thought homemade and handmade were kinda the same. Where I live in Melbourne there are quite a few clothing sweatshops and I personally think buying crafts cheap from someone else (presumably without a working wage) and passing them on as your own is not much different. I'm aware quite a few bigger crafters outsource their work to women's charities and such, which is better ethics wise but is it still homemade?? Interesting conversation, particularly for anyone who dreams of crafting full time but the hours required are out of reach...

  21. I'm very passionate (for want of a less wanky word) about this topic.

    I'm often left shaking my head in disbelief at the mountains of stuff that's made using other peoples illustrations (vintage or otherwise), not to mention the 'handmade' stuff that's basically just the result of weilding a hot glue gun.

    As for your particular scenario, if it was clearly stated then I guess people wouldn't have a problem with it when it's hidden, it sux.

  22. Yeah - it's a tricky one.
    I wonder why the producers are not selling their own wares. Is it because they don't have a computer, are not interested in computers or perhaps aren't literate? Should these goods be excluded because of such factors? Is it perhaps because the handmade manufacturer would rather make stuff with their time rather than sitting on a computer loading photos and marketing their product? (which must take up a lot of time)
    Questions relating to who is the designer are also interesting to consider.
    I suppose my bottom line is that I don't really mind as long as the information relating to the good's production is disclosed - thus empowering me as the buyer to make an informed choice.

  23. That's very worrying. My favourite-of-all handmade shopping experience can be found in my parents' home city, Edinburgh, and it's quite the opposite of what you're describing.

    The shop is run by the Edinburgh Self Aid Society and for decades (possibly a century, I should think) they have been supporting local people in need by giving them an outlet for their crafts, and also giving them access to affordable materials and tools, plus guidance about what's saleable.

    When you buy there you get genuine, and often traditional, Scottish crafts made locally with good materials. The prices are not inflated and you know that you are helping someone to 'craft' themselves out of a difficult situation.

  24. Ooh a tricky one. And from so many different angles.

    Personally my stance is this - if they are trying to pass off the work as their own - dishonest. I dont know how you weed it out though.

    Where does this discussion leave the people who sell overseas handmade items in a charity situation. Like Oxfams style thing but with a more specialised focus of a certain villiage or a certain product. They are helping a community and it is certainly handmade. But its not made by them and they have the way of selling the item that the people who produce it dont.

    For example, I know a number of people who craft as a way of healing mental illness. Beautiful arts and crafty pieces. But they have no way at all of conducting a business or indeed manageing to sell their items. Is it wrong for someone else to step up and be the middle man for them? Part of their issues is they CANT do the selling themselves. But they reiceve a 50/50 split on the profit. How is that wrong? And no Im not someone who sells for them. And no its not through Etsy. But the issue is the same.

    And then of course you have the other side of the issue. While I in no way agree with sweat shop anything, the catch 22 situation of this is, at least they have an income. If you boycot and dont buy etc, then only person who suffers is the poor sweat shop worker who gets sacked because the company needs to make less. If that is the only way they can gain an income, no matter how small and exploited, then removing that from them is disasterous. There must be other ways of fixing this issue. I know a little off topic, but it IS a related issue.

  25. wow, this is a great post!
    it's disconcerting to know that there are folks using etsy to pass off handmade goods as their own though someone else is doing the work.

    everyone here has made such good points on all viewpoints here! i will say i am with Leisa Zoeller in that there are folks who can not represent their work on their own, but deserve to be paid for the work they create - i'm just not sure the split should be 50-50...

  26. I've actually read one of the celebrity craft blogger write about how she had a neighbor girl down the street help her make a bunch of dolls that she sold on etsy. So, go figure.
    Someone also mentioned to me that they have been seeing felt food mass produced in china making it's way into actual stores. Is this the end of individual handmade?

  27. Some very interesting comments on the merits of handmade and homemade.

    I too prefer the term handmade as the homemade sounds so inferior these days. Homemade in my mind reminds me of something created as a make do and mend - perfectly serviceable but you can tell it's not commercial (homemade school jumpers anyone!!?).

    I might also consider homemade to refer more to foods like james, breads, cakes, for one's own consumption, not sale, and do indeed use the term in this way.

    However, handmade I feel refers to anything that is made for sale, that is not produced in a factory, but has the direct input of the designer. I don't have an issue with people employing others to make items by hand - think for a moment of small scale furniture builders, kitchen designers - they are still handmade but need to employ staff to help, otherwise they'd never sell anything because production would take too long.

    I found it interesting to see the definitions in the dictionary:

    hand-made (adj)
    (Clothing, Personal Arts & Crafts / Crafts) made by hand, not by machine, esp with care or craftsmanship - from Collins English Dictionary

    home-made (adj)
    1. Made or prepared in the home: homemade pie.
    2. Made by oneself.
    3. Crudely or simply made. - from American Heritage Dictionary

    factory-made (adj)
    produced in quantity at a factory. Contrasted with homemade. - Websters dictionary

    (all from 'The Free Online Dictionary')

    Very interesting, and I don't know if that helps.. but long live the handmade, and we who believe in it should continue to support it and promote it's correct usage.

    I have just had a thought though - although we say our wares are handmade, much of the 'ingredients' and packaging are factory made... interesting!.....

  28. I had no idea this was happening. I do wonder if the person doing the making knows what is going on.

    I'm wondering, even if they can't do the whole computer side of it themselves, shouldn't it work the other way around where they have the shop, and pay someone else to manage it for them? Or even have a joint shop, like "This is me, I do the computer stuff, and this is she, she does the crafty bit"...

    It smells of exploitation to me.


what a nice person you are- taking the time to comment in this busy hectic world...Thank you!!