The barriers to making
“I don’t know how.”
“I feel alone.”
“So many other people do it better.”
“I don’t have any tools or materials, or anywhere to work.”
“I can’t believe anyone wants my work.”
“I don’t know how to sell my work.”
“I don’t know how to do market research, marketing, branding, or publicity.”
“I can’t afford to do any of this.”
“But this is just my hobby, it’s nothing like the real thing.”
All of these are very real problems, and they stop a lot of people getting involved in crafts, or making the most of their talents. There’s a lot of information out there, but it’s hard to find unless you know what you’re looking for; lots of people, but they often have trouble finding each other; and lots of people who want to collect useful beautiful things, but all too few ways to sell them unless you have a lot of stock and a lot of time & energy to spend on marketing.
The last one, to my mind, is the worst though. There’s nothing intrinsically lesser or trivial about hobbies—in fact, hobbies are where most crafts work has always started. You pick something up, you mess around, you learn from your mother, you get hold of a tool and find something to do with it, you pick up a piece of wood and listen to what it wants to be.
Everyone who makes things—carving, knitting, cooking, smithing, embroidery, and all the other crafts—experiments and researches, learns and improves. It might not always feel like it, but that’s partly because it’s your hands doing the learning as much as your mind. There’s no fundamental difference between the handmade jewellery for sale on market stalls (or on Carnaby Street, or in the V&A gift shop) and the handmade jewellery you made for your girlfriend. If you make a hundred or two hundred using the same techniques, then you’ll inevitably get better at it. If you train your eye and your sense of form & colour, you’ll inevitably get better at it. But there’s no magic potion or academic anointing that will make you into a crafter, because if you pick up tools and use them then you already are.
What you’re making is real, and you don’t have to take it public if you don’t want to. But if you do, you can, and you don’t have to be perfect first.