Recently we had an interesting discussion on the EnMart Facebook page about whether or not gifts professional embroiderers or sublimators or direct to garment printers made were considered handmade gifts. There are several movements encouraging handmade instead of store bought gifts, and others which encourage recycled or upcycled gifts, but it’s hard to know where to draw the line. If you embroider for a living and you monogram a scarf as a Christmas gift, is that gift considered handmade? It wouldn’t necessarily, I don’t think, be considered handmade if a customer purchased it from you, so where, exactly, is the line drawn? Also, does it really matter?
First of all, we need to examine the meaning of the word handmade, which means exactly what it says, made by hand. If we go strictly by that definition, then nothing made on a machine is handmade, and so really there is no discussion. If we switch from handmade to homemade, we have a little more wiggle room. Homemade is defined as made or prepared at home, locally, by the maker’s own efforts. If we go by that definition, then anything made by a professional embroider or printer could be said to be homemade, as it was made by that person’s own efforts, if not in their home.
Second, we need to consider how we think about embroidery and sublimation and direct to garment printing. These are essentially creative endeavors. Designs are created. Something attractive and useful is created from a blank canvas of some kind. Whether that creation is done on an embroidery machine, with a printer and heat press or by someone in a chair with a needle and thread, the end result is something that can be both useful and beautiful, a work of art if you will. If we return to our examination of definitions for a moment, art is defined as (1) the creation of works of beauty or other special significance and (2) the exercise of human skill. Using those definitions, the things that embroiders and printers create can be considered art.
In the end, it probably doesn’t matter what it’s called or where the gift is purchased or where or who it’s made, the meaning and intent behind the gift is what really matters. Whether you embroidery or print professionally or as a hobby, you’re still spending time and effort creating something special for someone else. That’s what makes a gift special and personal and, to me, that’s the issue, not where the gift was made.
So, that’s my take on the subject. What do you think?