From Indian Villages To West Elm Shelves: Handmade Crafts Go High-End

This fall, Secretary of State John Kerry stood at a lectern with a speech and an apple. He wasn’t planning to snack, although the red, round fruit looked as he noted, “beautiful.” It was a souvenir from Kazakhstan, made from local wool by artisans in Almaty, and just the right prop to introduce the idea that the world is hungry for crafts.

Once limited to village markets or tourist shops, handmade goods can now be sold to anyone, anywhere, he noted. Promoting these purchases, Kerry added, has the potential to improve the lives of the individuals who make them.

“Consumers today care more and more about where something comes from, who produced it, under what conditions did they produce it,” he said.

That may help explain why an increasing number of stores have added artisan wares to their shelves and sites. That $2,300 rug with a faded floral pattern at West Elm? The $50 picture frame made of bone at Bloomingdale’s? Both handcrafted by artisans in India.

They are contemporary designs, styled for modern American home decor. Yet they are made using age-old techniques β€” ones that had been dying out, largely because in an era of mass production and low-as-you-can-go prices, these time and labor-intensive practices couldn’t compete.

The same qualities that once seemed to doom these goods are now making them more appealing to a new audience. A growing number of Americans, says Tori Mellott, senior editor at Traditional Home, are looking for something that’s got a human touch behind it: “We live in a world of plastic and screens. We want something personal.” And products that can both support craftspeople and be practical for the customer pack the ultimate “double punch.”

Machlipatanam Film Behind-the-Scenes

Photo Courtesy of Good Earth.

 

Read the full story at NPR.com.

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