Thursday, 18 April 2013

Bibliophilia: Made by Hand by Mark Frauenfelder

Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in A Throwaway World – Mark Frauenfelder

My interest in making stuff, extends beyond how to, into why to. I like reading theory about it as well as anything that will improve skills. So I dug this book, by the editor of Make:. His definition of making extends into growing and cultivating as well, chronicling his efforts to raise chickens, keep bees, and garden.

As he puts it, he wanted to 

1) To improve my family’s home life by taking an active role in the things that feed, clothe, educate, maintain, and entertain us. 
2) To gain a deeper connection and sense of engagement with the things and systems that keep us alive and happy.

One concept the book introduced me too, and I’m shocked I wasn’t familiar with it, is that of Wabi-Sabi. It’s more complex than my simplistic take on it, but it deals with the idea of the beauty found in an object’s imperfections. While the stuff I make tends to be close to perfect in terms of it fulfilling the needs I have for it, I also dig all the little flaws and imperfections. It’s fully functional, it’s structurally sound, but there are slight cosmetic imperfections, and a very visible  “hand-made” look to it that I appreciate. I’m not as concerned with everything looking perfect as I am with functionality, and, just the act of making. I know I will keep learning and improving. The next thing I make will benefit from what I just made.

A copied passage from the book.

It’s not easy to see through the consensual illusion that buying stuff will make you happy. But the people I’ve met through Make: have succeeded, to one degree or another, in deprogramming themselves of the lifelong consumer brainwashing they’ve received. They’ve learned how to stop depending so much on faceless corporations to provide them with what they need (and desire) and to begin doing some of the things humans have been doing since the dawn of time. They’re willing to take back some of the control we’ve handed over to institutions. They believe that the sense of control and accomplishment you get from doing something yourself, using your own hands and mind, can’t be achieved any other way. They make things not because they are born with any special talent for making but because they choose to develop and hone their ability. And yes, some of the things they make are mistakes, but they aren’t afraid of making them, because they’ve rejected the lesson from the Bernay school of brainwashing that says handmade stuff is bad because it isn’t perfect.

The alpha DIYers I have gotten to know over the years have inspired me to make things and make mistakes. Once I discovered how much fun it was to become active in the process of making, maintaining, and modifying the things I use and consume every day, the little flaws, quirks and imperfections in my handiwork stopped becoming shameful, and instead felt like badges of honour.

Another quote I appreciated:
No one talks of failure as anything but shameful; this is wrongheaded and foolish. Mistakes are synonymous with learning. Failing is unavoidable. Making is a process, not an end. It is true that deep experience helps avoid problems, but mainly it gives you mental tools with which to solve inevitable problems when they do come up. The act of failing again and again is the only way to equip oneself with the mental toolbox of a successful DIYer.

No comments:

Post a Comment