Friday, May 27, 2011

Making me think today



But also making me sew, too. Of course. By hand. Juliana and I both shed a little tear with this story, only 5 minutes long or so. I think you'll agree how beautiful this portrayal is. What does this sort of thing do to you? As a descendant of this type of work, I feel. As a business woman, I contemplate. I would love to know what you feel or contemplate, even if it conflicts. Perhaps more than anything, as an artist, this makes me want to learn.

have a nice long weekend, make something beautiful, and then show someone else how to do it too. xo, Anna Maria

(Video compliments of my friends at Etsy)

95 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:57 PM

    It makes me wonder. I think about a quilting blog I love to look at -- Red Pepper Quilts -- and how she sells her finished quilts (from Australia) for prices that don't seem like they'd necessarily cover the cost of the fabric. Or if so, not by very much. And how most of the quilting artists that I love, like yourself, sell fabrics and patterns and even kits...but not the product of their hands, presumably because you can't charge what it would have to cost. It's a tricky thing.

    In some ways, that reinforces what you imply here -- that such handwork is a labor of love, and that we have to pass it on as such, rather than as a business proposition in this day and age. Thus, we teach someone.

    I have 1 (and a half!) young boys in my family so far -- I wonder if they'll be interested in playing with color and fabric? I hope so!

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  2. oh, that was fabulous, anna maria. thank you for sharing. it is sad to see how lesser-quality imports are making their way into the marketplace in these small villages, and yet i feel such a lovely strength in these women. their belief in and dedication to their traditions will outlast the imitations. it's a difficult line to navigate when one's livelihood is supported primarily by tourism. but i have to believe that there will always be a deep appreciation for and desire to uphold these traditions.

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing this!
    I often struggle with my business because the things that I like to make are time consuming and I'm not able to produce enough work to make a living from my business.
    Many times well meaning people I know will tell me I saw something that would be so easy to make that you could sell, but I've never been interested in making things like that.
    I'd rather make something that I love and put it out into the world than make things I don't care about. My philosophy has not translated into a profitable business strategy, but I just keep working at it all the same.

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  4. This breaks my heart. I would love to be able to sit at their side and learn their art and am so grateful that I was taught at my grandmother's knee. Cutwork lace/embroidery is such incredible work!

    Thank you for sharing this. It is the kind of thing people need to be aware of. I get so frustrated sometimes that I cannot sell my goods in my etsy shop at fair prices because people just don't understand what goes into an embroidered final object and, like the video said, they would rather pay for a machine done/imported piece that they can throw in the washing machine than support the pain-staking work of individual women who are trying to keep an entire artform alive with their fingertips. I have begun to make embroidery patterns instead of finished objects because it passes on the artform and my love for it while allowing me to charge a price that is fair to both buyer and seller alike. It's inspiring to see strong women such as yourself who are successful at making a living out of it.

    sigh...sorry for the novel :)

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  5. Anna Maria,
    This story touches my heart as well. It makes me think of my great-grandmother who would sit and tat for hours and hours. I tried to learn but was never able to keep up with her pace. If it was not for my mother and grandmother, both who loved to sew, and my father who loved to cross-stitch, I am not sure I would have fallen in love with the textile arts like I have over the years. It is a shame that some cultures do not view these handiwork as the works of art that they truly are. I thank God that my family showed me how to sew, now I must show my girls how to sew as well! Thank you for such a great video!

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  6. Lovely to see woman working together and chatting no? One of the things I love about sewing is that while my hands are busy my mind is free to wander or converse if I am so lucky. Also makes me think a bit about when I was selling things in my etsy shop. It took me so long to raise my prices to where they should be because I wasn't sure my work was worthy or if people would think I charge too much. ANd then when I did raise my prices I was even more busy. Too busy! I didn't enjoy it as much. Crazy huh? What it came down to is that creating custom work on a deadline was stressful. And the stress made the creating not very much fun. Watching this video I was struck by the notion that these woman would continue their needle work even if there was no buyer. We should all be so lucky to find the thing we would do just because its in us to do it.

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  7. This is something that I would love to hop on a plane and fly to these women and learn from them. There's a beauty and simplicity of what they are doing.

    With that said, I'm planning on teaching my 5 year old how to use a sewing machine today and this weekend. Hopefully she'll love sewing as much as I do!

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  8. It makes me contemplate how lucky I am to have found a circle of like minded girls to share my love of craft with.

    It makes me wish for more of an acceptance of "craft" in our American society. More college girls like you's and mine who truly love creating and learning the craft.

    It reminds me of a PBS special I saw on the traditions of the Samarai in Japan, and the metalworking craft involved in making the swords. The boys of Japanese descent have no desire to learn and absorb the craft so the Master found an apprentice from Belgium who is taking the time (YEARS!) to learn the craft and hopefully one day become the master.

    And it makes me want to learn. Learn their craft from them, at their side...

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  9. Thank you for sharing this story. It is beautiful and sad. My Grandmother was a seamstress and she knew how to make lace. I learned so many things about sewing from her (sadly I never learned to make lace) - this makes me miss her deeply. It is an art that has to be passed down to our children and our children's children. No matter how many machine made things we can purchase it will never be possible to replace the love that is given when something is handmade.

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  10. That embroidery looks very similar to hardanger. It's beautiful! What I love is the expertise that comes from years of stitching. What makes me sad is that today we cannot live on an income from handwork. What it inspires me to do is to incorporate what creative skills I have into daily life. And the best reward when I teach someone how to do something new is the lightbulb moment they have when it clicks and starts to make sense. I wish there were more avenues to encourage the passing on of old skills whether is lace making or cheese making or bread baking.

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  11. Thank you for sharing this:) I get flustered often because I tend to make things to last rather than just make something to be done with it. When I tried craft fairs in the past, I had a number of rude people tell me that my work was overpriced- it did not matter that it was a well made item. I lost the passion and quit selling my creations. Now, I only sew when I want to and then, only what I want to; I do it for me:)

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  12. I received a stack of fat quarters to make my first quilt. They have been used for various color spashes around my house, but not for sewing, yet. A big part of my hesitation is not havint the money to pay for a quilt to be finished....the design stitching to hold it together. Is it possible to do that kind of paisley swirl by hand enbroidery? The women in my family do not quilt. Thanks Anna, for the inspiration.

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  13. Ana Maria,
    What a lovely story and yet so tragic too. We are becoming a world that values the cheap things and in that we lose ourselves.

    I choose to buy organic foods from local farmers and I live in a metropolitan area of California. I know the people who grow my food.

    It makes me sad to see where the world is headed. We think we are so sophisticated but I think we are misguided.

    xo jana

    my word verification is "banpoop" I agree-we should ban low quality mass produced stuff.

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  14. Love that video! It was inspiring, just as you are, and encourages me to keep working with my hands and to make the time for it. The handiwork and crafts not only need to be preserved and taught to the next generation for their beauty, but also because doing this type of "work" reminds us to slow down, sit, have a conversation, and create beauty. For the sake of beauty and not a profit. Thank you for sharing what you do and making it available in kits and fabrics so your beautiful creations are shared!

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  15. So sad, but so encouraging that so many are doing hand work again. I am 65 and have just started emboidery again after 50 years maybe. I love it and am thankful for blogs like yours and Clover and Violet that are so inspiring. I just want to go learn what those dear women are doing and help them. Thanks MJ

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  16. I think it is just awful, that it has come to this. Though, I also know what it is to be a consumer on a tight budget, and tighter still as each day gas and groceries go up. I am blessed in that I know how to sew and make many of my own things, a talent I hope to pass on to my daughter when she is old enough. And though I do sell some things on etsy, it is very hard to make a profit, it seems, because there is no way no one wants to pay what you really have invested in it (time-wise), esp. with quilts, which are very time consuming. I don't see how anyone can really make an actual living doing such. But again, as a consumer, I myself, cannot afford to pay what it is worth, either. So, I am torn both ways. I want people to stay in business, to make what they deserve, but I am also a bargain shopper, looking for the best deal for my family's tight budget. I agree that it is a labor of love and something that should be handed down in families and friends. It would be devastating for such arts to become extinct.

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  17. This reminds me of home, India and how such crafts form rich heritage. It is sad that future generations might lose this whole aesthetic and technique. But I feel it is important to appreciate and when possible buy. A person who understands the rich value of an original piece will long to have it and keep it. I feel that way about my country's heritage. A lot of effort is made through our design schools and educators to keep looking at our traditional crafts, keep incorporating them, they are our wealth.
    It's tough to compete with machines and a mass producer like China. I was so saddened to once hear a story where China moved 40 weavers from Kanchivaram in India, with the lieu of money, to replicate our own textiles. Very sad. Unfortunately, when you go to the market all you see is 'Made in China' and you can help yourself from encouraging this.
    There is hope with organizations and people who feel for it and are determined to do something about it. India is an example of it, with some great, dedicated organizations working with traditional craft techniques, applying them to contemporary markets. And dedicated teachers reenforcing the strength and value of our heritage.
    Kalaraksha, FabIndia, the National Institute of Design are a few.

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  18. I don't have anything to add to these already wonderful comments. But I will thank-you for sharing that video. It inspires me to find a way to work teaching (in real life) into my craft.

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  19. Susan2:45 PM

    I taught my 8-year-old daughter to hand sew two days ago, and she's eagerly stitching every minute since. The freedom and opportunity it affords her is something even she can grasp (literally and otherwise).

    I don't share the pessimism of the ladies in the film - although they may be correct about "no one else" doing what they do after they die. But I doubt it.

    People are still hand spinning with drop spindles (I do), which is an art some may have thought would have died out with the advent of the spinning wheel (also in production and use these days; I have three wheels). I plan to teach my daughter those skills (spinning, knitting, crochet) as well when she's ready.

    I also learned bobbin lace - still made in Belgium and other European countries - once I saw it for myself in the US. It didn't grab me as knitted lace (and tatting) did. Nonetheless, it's still an art form that can be passed on - still alive today.

    True - Chinese goods may not be the quality of what the women in this Cypriot town are producing, but there's a place for the Chinese goods as well, in my view.

    As the lady in the film pointed out, "it's a free market." And that's a good thing. Who knows? Maybe the Chinese goods will open a door to a consumer who wouldn't otherwise have heard of the hand-made artifact, and the story will continue...

    Thanks for sharing the video. It's always beautiful to watch women, particularly those advanced in years, engaged in handwork.

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  20. It's time to have my mother teach me velonaki(crochet) while she still can :-)

    Thanks for sharing the video!

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  21. This reminds me of the lace factory I visited in Venice last summer. It was the only place left that still made lace by hand. They had the same concerns about machine-made products replacing the handcrafted items because they are so much cheaper. It's sad, really.

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  22. Anonymous3:32 PM

    I am lucky enough to own some pieces of Lefkara lace, bought when I lived in Cyprus 30 years ago. It isn't actually lace but a form of embroidery. The legend is that it was introduced to Cyprus by Berengaria, wife of King Richard. They were married in Limassol.

    Thank you for the video and its thought provoking message.
    (It also made me want to go back to Cyprus - we haven't been since 2004. Perhaps net Spring...

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  23. My 86-yo mom is part of a sewing group that is getting new, "younger" members, i.e. 60+yo women who have retired from business and are returning to do the things they love. It encourages me so to find so many young women learning textile crafts, enjoying them and passing them on to others through the internet. Yes, handmade is expensive (I can't afford it!) but I'll always admire it and wish I could learn it. Perhaps there is a daughter or granddaughter out there who will be doing this lace work in a few years...

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  24. I don't know. The video was wonderful but didn't make me too sad. I've been thinking a lot lately about the ways life has changed in the past few generations and whether any of that changes the *worth* of our lives compared to our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents. I love having handmade things in my daily life, but I nearly always make them myself rather than buying them. I enjoy making them and supplies are expensive enough.

    There is simply a very hard limit on what a single person can produce entirely by hand. I'm certainly very thankful that I have the luxury of doing handwork for love, not because producing as many incredibly exacting near duplicate items as I can is the only economic activity open to me.

    I don't think the art of these women will die out. It might very well stop being part of the local economy, but in a few generations it could easily see a rebirth as a for-the-love-of-it craft.

    I'm still thinking about this whole issue, though. Still thinking. Thanks for the video.

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  25. I don't think anything will die out completely. Everything goes thru cycles just like fashion, home decor, and even names.
    My handmade vintage linens are made with love and you can see it and feel it in the pieces themselves. They will last far longer than the piece that was machine made.
    The artists in this piece made my heart ache. I wish I could tell them that even if their daughters don't have an interest in embroidery it doesn't mean that their children won't or their children's children won't. My grandmother was a fantastic sewer. My mother and aunt had no interest in learning those things because they were more focused on careers. It was a time when things were changing - woman didn't have to be housewives they had choices and options. To them the art of sewing was what a housewife did. Unfortunately I was young when my grandmother passed and have a couple of memories of her sewing but was never able to learn from her. I have that sewing love that she did. It may have skipped a generation or it may be genetic.
    If all you believe is that people will always buy the cheap machine made lace - then yes your right because that is all you will see. Show someone the person who made that handmade piece, show them the time it takes, believe that what you are making someone will want - than yes your right because people will see the value in the cost.

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  26. Oh I wanted to take a seat with them and pick their brains and learn what they had to teach!

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  27. Loved this story---but, it is very sad to see such wonderful art forms disappear. Having learned to sew at a very young age, I was taught an appreciation of handmade goods long before it was cool to enjoy them. I learned that while store-bought is quite often quicker or cheaper, handmade is so much more beautiful and satisfying!. While I never had the opportunity to learn to make lace or eyelet, my grandmother did and I am fortunate enough to have many pieces of her work (and that of more distant relatives, too) and treasure the time it took to create such beautiful works of art.

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  28. a beautiful story... lots of thoughts on it. it is heartening to see all sorts of crafts/techniques making a come-back though. all us young-uns will make sure of that!

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  29. What a brilliant little piece. I have the privilege of having a day job where I restore antique textiles for eight hours a day, and often, as I sit in front of a piece from the 1500 or 1600s I marvel at the work that went into the piece as well as the fact that it still exists four or five hundred years later...Those lace pieces are above economy - they are art.

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  30. Shalini9:02 PM

    Dear Anna Maria,
    Thank you for sharing this video, we visited Lefkara in Oct 2009 and we sat with one of these lovely women and she showed me and my daughters how they do it. No special gadgets for gauging so accurately with anything but her eyes and years of experience.

    We were all fascinated and I told my husband (who is Greek Cypriot) that the next time we visit Cyprus I would like to spend a few days just working and learning from one of these lovely ladies.

    I bought some beautiful scarves and a runner all handmade and I show it with such pride when friends visit and often people comment on its beauty.

    I do hope we can preserve this beautiful tradition. It was really special walking the streets of Lefkara watching them work.

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  31. I love that even though machines can produce a passable version, these ladies continue their passion of needlework. Such lovely work they do too. You can see how happy and proud they are.

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  32. I'm touched by those ladies. I love how that one lady tied a bow on the gate doors. I've always dreamed of a life just like that. I feel there's no comparison to something handmade. Yes, machines and computers can create but what they create, although trying to be similar, is an entirely different thing. Moving into the future, I think that we (the makers of handmade things) have to figure out a way to mesh the computers and machines in to what we do, to grow and survive. Those ladies are my heros - I should be so lucky. Thanks for posting.

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  33. Their story is so sad and true. Is it possible to learn every craft out there and then pass it on so that it doesn't die?

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  34. My hope is that the internet is able to connect us, and we don't lose these incredible skills. I've been able to learn all sorts of needlework via the internet, knitting, crocheting, lace tatting, and my children, who are 2 and 4, can already differentiate between knitting and crocheting and tatting (something many adults seem unable to do)...
    Obviously it's sad to see these women lose out to machine made, imported crap, but at the same time, I frequently remind myself that handmade by someone else isn't all that special. My kids love what I make them not just because it fits better, or is in the right colors, etc, but because I, their mother, made it FOR THEM, WITH LOVE.
    I tend not to buy handmade by others, (except for very small, affordable samples), because I know that what will be most valued are the things I make FOR a specific person. (that being said, I DO tend to buy kits, instructions, patterns, etc, so that I can make something specific and handmade by myself)
    I didn't realize how passionately I felt about this till I started typing... and now I wonder if I am making any sense?
    Thank you for posting this and making me think!

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  35. This video was also posted on "The Textile Blog," along with a very interesting essay that puts this story in a larger context of the history of hand craft and the competition with machine production
    http://thetextileblog.blogspot.com/2011/05/future-opportunities-of-hand-production.html

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  36. Beautiful- thank you-

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  37. Oh this made me miss Cyprus! And the Cypriot Greek! Thank you so much for sharing this video. I saw lots of that Lefkara lace in Nikosia and it was always so beautiful. It makes me want to create. Wonderful!

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  38. Thank you for sharing. Two main thoughts cross my mind as I watched. First and foremost, we need to band together, buy some tickets and haul a$$ over to these ladies and offer them loads of money to patiently teach us their beautiful craft.

    Secondly, I truly believe there is a place for their work, albeit perhaps not in doily form? I mean really, everyone can agree the work itself is beautiful, but where would it have a place in my home other than framed, and that even would be a stretch. I'm seeing it in the form of a messenger bag with a big chunky camel colored leather strap; a set of pillows made with square pieces, even maybe a linen tunic or skirt.

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  39. I want to go there! Thanks for posting Anna.

    The exact same thing is happening in Volterra, Italy with alabaster. When we visited there a few years ago we talked to one of the seven remaining alabaster tradesmen. They're craft is dying out due to mechanization. It's sad.

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  40. That was beautiful. And heartbreaking. Send me- I will learn!

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  43. Anna, I saw this video earlier and was touched by it too. It is sad but true that commercialization and modernization has made things like that a common occurrence. But I believe there is still a place in the world for "intangible cultural assets" like the Lefkara lace tradition.

    I hand make things even though I can buy similar mass-produced products. For every bag or pouch I make, considering the money I spend on the fabrics and the time put into the crafting, I could easily buy two bags or 5 China-made knock-offs. But that doesn't stop me from making stuff because I enjoy doing it, and I like giving personalized things made with love.

    In the same way, I think there'll always be a market for artisanal craft like Lefkara lace. For every 10 machine-made replica bought as souvenirs (because it's cheaper, someone may have purchased a machine-made version even if they would never have paid for a handmade one!), there might be a few that are bought as special gifts. These will last longer and can be passed down the generations. The question is perhaps one of marketing and creating awareness of the unique, special value and quality of these handcrafted items.

    best wishes, Grace

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  44. This makes me sad. And reignites my passion to continue teaching beginning hand embroidery classes. It is so important to pass these skills on. It also makes me wish I had acknowledged the value in my grandmother's handicraft before she passed away. It also makes me think that your heart must swell with happiness to see your girls stitching together. And it makes me want to get my hands on those luscious pearl cottons!

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  45. So sad and lovely. Thanks for sharing this. I've never heard of this kind of embroidery before, but it is beautiful!

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  46. this is BEAUTIFUL. xxx

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  47. mmmm.....makes me want to get on a plane.... How fascinating it would be to sit and learn from women like these!!
    It's a shame to see these skills/arts dying as society craves cheap, instant gratification. The days of taking pride in something handmade are slipping away as fewer people are taught these arts. It is refreshing, inspiring, and fulfilling to be a part of a movement towards handmade. And it's people like you who are making it accessable for people like me (self taught, wannabe's trying to make it happen!)to learn these crafts. It's SO rewarding to sit still and create something - we need to pass it on! Thanks for the reminder!

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  48. Should I jump on my soap box now so everyone can hear me? The arts are sooo important! This video just justified my belief in the arts and how they are being disposed of everywhere. This is not a frivolous art but was a way of income for so many.
    What beautiful history that is being pushed aside for the all mighty dollar, euro or ruble.

    In America, so many art & music educators are losing their jobs because politicians and board members of school districts believe they are not important! It starts at the top and trickles down. We as a country need to value our arts and as a elementary art teacher of 15 years I am a dying breed just like these beautiful women. Thanks for showing this video! :)

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  49. Uh! this is the problem with all beautiful old things... new generations (including myself I'm sure) don't appreciate the romance and the beauty of things until they are almost gone...

    If it cheers you up a little anna maria, my great grand-mother taught her daughter to sew, who in turn taught my mother who in turn has taught both of us. We (27 and 24) have grown up with a deep love for the hand-made and for fabric and working with it and if I have a daughter I intend to pass this on too... it's like reading... children read if their parents do... it is each of our duties to pass on our love and traditions to our children in order to keep the beautiful arts alive...and remembered.

    Big hugs.

    thea.
    xx

    (www.spoonfulzine.com)

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  50. Things that make me sad is the lack of appreciation for the handmade. Even the handmade with love things I make for gifts. It's almost as if handmade isn't as good as store bought. Makes me sad.

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  51. oh this is beautiful!!! Just what I have been thinking about exactly! It's interesting, because I stitch too, that as someone who runs a business, and raises children, I hardly have time to stitch as much as I want to! But the truth is, that when I Do....my whole world comes back into it's real meaning, and life isn't so fast paced any more. I have such a hard time with how fast the world is and how the people in it are less and less patient with what they choose to spend their time doing. Needlework is the perfect example of slowing the world down with something gorgeous at the end to show for it. And the best part is, that it's so portable! I have a place In my purse when I'm out with the kids. And I see how my children are starting to do it too, and it makes me so happy. I almost what to go visit these ladies and say..."We're Trying! We're trying to keep this young generation in tune!!" But the best way is to do it yourself, and have your children watch you. My grandmother did that for me. And I hope to be doing that for my children! Anna....your threads are GORGEOUS! and I can't wait to get my hands on them. Thanks for the inspiration!
    xo
    sarah

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  52. Oh, in a heart beat I would spend a ton of money on the original. Where ever I travel too, I'm very careful to buy the original craft of the area, and I make darn sure it was produced either by hand or made in the country at least.
    I once visited Brugge, and there was this little old woman outside of a lace shop, doing her thing. I asked the shop keeper inside if I could take a picture of her. She told me she would let me because I was not Chinese. She told me that they had been letting anyone take photos, until they realized that some of their original designs were being mass produced in China. That is sad!!!!
    As an embroiderer I would pay top dollar for those amazing pieces they were producing in the Etsy piece, and if I couldn't afford them, I would not by the machine made one.
    Thanks for bringing this to light, to remind people to buy handmade, and support artistry like emboidery.

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  53. The amount of work those ladies put in to their work
    is wonderful. To have something handmade is so
    personal. Priceless.
    Passing on these skills is so important. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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  54. I was here, on your comment section of this post, Anna Maria, about 30 comments ago. I wanted to comment, but didn't because I felt like I really needed to think about it about a bit so that I could share not just my reaction, but rather my true feelings on this issue. I believe that in the most difficult of economic times, quality becomes even more critical to us than before. We seek out real value when we have less to spend. Real value is assessed not by how many of an item we can afford, but rather by the uniqueness of an object. In items like the ones in the video, the uniqueness comes not in the item's final intended use. It, instead, shows up in the meticulous handwork that these women, in Greece, have developed over many, many millions of stitches. In hard economic times we don't run down to the local Bed & Bath superstore and buy another quilt and take the old one to Goodwill. We take the extraordinary measures to make items that we will treasure for a lifetime - and we treasure them just as we would if we had the opportunity to come in contact with the amazing work these ladies do, and have done, almost every day of their lives. As a society, we are growing up to realize that certain things have a much higher value. Just as they always have, something that is made with such care is treasured, adored, and put on the pedestal they deserve to be on by ordinary people who have never met the maker of those exquisite products. We can not expect every tourist passing by their village to have the same feeling upon seeing these as we do. They are not there for that; at most the tourists are looking for a token memento of their brief trip there. These women need to, like a skipping pebble, skip right over the daily onslaught of tourists and place their goods in front of people that REQUIRE the value that they have to offer. For them the days are past where their goods where valued for their purpose as much as their handworked detail by the average passerby. We live in a big world made much smaller by the technology that is available today. I am unaware, at this moment, of anyone helping these women ply their way through the technological rivers that exist, but they DO exist. In your post you eluded to this by saying "As a business woman, I contemplate." I also believe that you eluded to it again, when you said "... as an artist, this makes me want to learn." As we know from our past experience with you, Anna Maria, when YOU learn, we ALL learn. It looks like you may have another project. For their sake, as well as ours, I wish you all the best, to both the business woman and the artist in you. Carolina

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  55. My Greek yiayia handstitched her trousseau in the same way as these women are embroidering, and it is so sweetly melancholic to think of her now. Such beautiful work, and as other have said, priceless work. I think the real difficulty is trying to put a price on such work, and it certainly cannot be calculated by the hour. And while many comments bemoan this fact, as do I, I think the very important thing to recognise and celebrate is the current resurgence in the hand made, in the locally sourced, in the authentic item. Hand made goods, were never meant to be an economic proposition, they were made to be used, most commonly by the maker. I am fortunate enough to be able to sell my handmade goods, but stopped counting my hours almost as soon as I began sewing. I hope in our fast forward world, this joy of the handmade continues, and as a result, increases in economic value. But most importantly I want to continue to teach my children there is great joy and satisfaction in being able to make something, and making it just as you want it, rather than the brief thrill of a cheap retail purchase. Thanks for posting the video. C

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  56. Anonymous9:29 AM

    It seems to me that when people see 'handmade' in the title of something, especially craft items, that they think that it should be cheaper. They seem to think that because someone made it at home and not at work that their time is less valuable and therefore we should not be allowed to charge as much for an item. It is for this reason that I question myself every time I am pricing a handmade item. I talk myself down, thinking "they won't pay that much for it". Handmade used to mean something of value. I was brought up that if something was handmade, it was special because someone had physically done it themselves. Not a machine, a person and that was special. I lost my grandma a couple of years ago and never got to learn her traditional Portuguese embroidery methods. This is something that is now lost to my family and to the culture. It makes me sad to think of it this way. If I could have her back for just one more day I would ask her to sit and show me. Then I would always have that moment with her and have that skill to pass on.

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  57. so poignant....lovely....thank you. (my goodness, i cried too.... at the thought of anything so beautiful ever dying...)

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  58. I am from Puerto Rico, and have been living in the U.S. for 23 years :( There is a type of fiber art in Puerto Rico that is dying too. It is called mundillo and it is beautiful, but is also time consuming and people live in a hurry. Sometimes we live in a hurry because we have to... We need to earn money to feed our kids, to have a roof to sleep under and clothes to wear. I have always want to lear this art called mundillo, some old ladies teach it in a little town called Moca in Puerto Rico. I hope one day I can go back and learn it before they stop teaching it.
    Thank you for sharing,
    ♥ Debbie

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  59. Anonymous12:59 PM

    Handwork is such a wonderful art, it can not be lost! Your free embroidery design came out just in time. I found some amazing embroidery at Anthropology the other day. It was on a skirt and even though it was all done in one color it was exquisite! The flower pattern was similar to the blue one on your header.

    Also, I have made your Wild Flower Pincushion for my sisters and friends for their birthdays. They have loved them. Although, before I made myself one BHG stopped carrying it one their site! Eek! I would love to make more. Would you add that to your free patterns on your blog?

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  60. So thought provoking, thank you for sharing. At a very basic level lets teach one another, learn and grow in our talents, share our time willingly and these 'handmade' skills will never die out. Also when we are overseas as tourists looking for that special gift, lets make sure that we do buy the 'real deal' and therefore ensure that such beauty is passed on to another and another. However I also agree with the comment that such work also needs to be relevant to our 21st century.

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  61. This video touches me on a personal level. My siblings and I are the first generation of my family born in America. My family comes from a small country village in Lebanon. When we go back to my family's home overseas, I have seen over the years slowly people forgoing long held traditions and the old ways. Whether it be making yogurt from the neighbors cow (who has been long sold), to sewing blankets. People are opting for the easier ways of just buying it made in the stores. This organic life style, one I crave so much, seems to be fading with the older generations....as in this video. You will still find some of the older generations still holding strong to these old traditions, like my father's sister, who I adore and devour every minute spent with her, in hopes to learn and keep traditions alive.

    Thank you for sharing this video.

    - Samya

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  62. It is very sad that it is not only there, it is here to!(USA) People have thrown out their traditions and replaced them with fast and cheap. I recently when to my Mom's house and was helping organize her closet. I bought homehand made doilies and pillowcases she had made.They are beautiful. That is what is wrong with the world, they would rather play with electronics than take pride in something they made. I want to slap the people who say handmade things are to expensive! People have become very ungrateful! Our world is to spoiled!!!!

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  63. I agree with something said above: These pieces are above economy, they are so artful. Making money with these is impossible, making hearts happy with it's unique quality never stops. I believe these techniques and local crafts will never die.

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  64. Hi Anna Maria...I haven't introduced myself on your blog - but being a descendant (close) of my embroidering Hungarian mother + grandmother, and having been at their feet and listening to them chat the afternoon away with hoop in hand (mine too), I had to come by and tell you how much I enjoyed this video...and so did my 12 yr. old daughter who has since learned from me....

    nothing says living more than passing down one's heritage through their non-idle hands...

    how sad this art is disappearing- but your influence is so profound in this day and age to keep that tradition alive - and I just hope I can do the same.....

    xo+blessings,
    Anne Marie

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  65. Wow. I'm a little late-sorry! What do I feel? It gives me chills. I wish everything were handmade. Just something in my own life where I can see the value of hands over machine are in quilting. I have you to thank 100% for that. When I first took up quilting I was in awe over handquilting and thought, one day before I die I want to handquilt an entire quilt. And you know what? I did it when I was 20 instead of 80 because all the quilts you share with us on here are handquilted, and I see so much more love in them than a machine can give. So thank you for passing on that to me! I will now just sit down and quilt for hours because of you!

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  66. Anonymous2:51 PM

    Thanks for sharing this film Anna Maria.I used to live in Lefkara 20 years ago and the "lace" as we call it here in Cyprus was big bussines.

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  67. Oh this makes me miss my yia ia. She made the most beautiful hand tatted lace. I never asked her to teach me but I know she would have because she taught me so many other beautiful traditions. She made them all look easy because she enjoyed them.

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  68. I see the dilemma. It's very sad and a hard situation, but I admire the women who continue to work in the face of it and in spite of it. Sort of makes you tihnk...how can that become sustainable? Fair trade lace? :)

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  69. Christine9:26 PM

    I watched this on Etsy, too and it made me so sad. Such a shame that it's a dying art ...

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  70. I have a friend who does cut and drawn work and she has given me some pieces! I'm more proud of them after seeing this although I already knew it was a dying art.

    Dying art...onomatopoeia!

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  71. My friends and I are working on a project like this

    http://lacepottery.com/

    to give our lace new life

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  72. I feel like there has been a generation or two that has lost the need and desire for handiwork. My grandmother made quilts. My grandfather made things from metal and farmed. Their children didn't learn their crafts. All the technological advances and mass production feed more people and keep us all connected, but seem to be killing the spirit of humanity.

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  73. Thank you for sharing! I love to see snippets of my heritage!!! Alexia

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  74. This is the same type of embroidery that we do here in Norway. Here we cal it Hardanger embroidery. I learned it from my Mother and Grandmother but I think I'm the only person my age I know that still does this type of embroidery. It is very intricate and time consuming but fairly easy once you know the basics.
    It is sad to see these old traditions die. I'm from a family that practice a lot of traditional crafts and it is very important to me to pas it on to my daughter. So I cross my fingers and hope she will love sewing as much as I do. If anyone is interested I have been thinking about doing some online tutorials free on my blog. It would make me happy knowing that more people were interested in learning this craft!!!

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  75. i remember after i got married, i was at my mom's house one afternoon. she sat me down and opened a trunk full of tablecloths, table runners with lace, and doilies. they were all pieces my yia yia's, and theas had made...and they were mine! Wow..i always remembered my yia yia crocheting....she was always so busy!..the older i got(and the more i appreciated this art) i was so amazed at how intricate and tiny the stitches were! these little yia yia's (grandmas) in the villages in greece were brilliant..and she passed it on to my mom, and i learned too..but just not this same style.it is so sad that these women think their art will fade away because the cheaper prices brought by machine made goods, but unfortunately people want faster/cheaper . i struggled with this idea today when i refused to go to wal-mart and said i would make the extra effort to go to a family owned grocery store...but will i really always do this??
    i think the lesson here is to pass on the traditions,crafts, and skills you have learned to your children, and teach them to have a great appreciation for these things. and you are definitely doing this with your children anna!! you can see it trickle down with all of them...and that is beautiful! filakia

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  76. Honestly, it doesn't surprise me that this is dying out. These women are totally underpaid, for one thing. Forget selling these cloths for hundreds, they should be going for thousands. So, it makes sense that children and grandchildren are leaving the home - for University, for jobs, for independence, etc. I'd be doing the same! I embroider as well ... but, I do it for myself. I can't fathom working so many hours on a piece and then getting paid such a small percentage for my efforts.

    I do shop, both local and handmade. But, it seems like these women need to start reinventing their process as otherwise it really WILL die out.

    For instance, in Poland, we also have traditional lace work. The lace work designs have been passed down for hundreds of years. Nowadays, not too many people are interested in doilies and lace tablecloths. So, a group of young women got together, and used the same, centuries old lace designs, and began making lingerie. HUGE hit. Their lingerie is also handmade, and quite pricey ... but, also exquisite. And creating a pair of panties is doable in terms of the handmade price offered to consumers.

    So, I'm a big believer in reinvention. If something is dying out, there should be a way of saving it through "innovative" means.

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  77. Thanks for sharing the link to that story. One of the crafts I do is smocking, but rarely do I make anything for other people. It takes such a long time to finish some items. I really only make stuff for my children. If I was to put a price on what I make, I doubt people would buy it, yet they would probably walk into the 'designer' kids stores and fork out money for crappy mass made clothing. Seems the same with many other hand crafted items. Jacinta

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  78. Thanks for sharing! In my own way this makes me think of Target. Yep... that store down the street that somehow even has me checking out their "Made in some other place" quilts and bedding. I see that there's a place for it (we all have to keep warm don't we?) but at the same time it's cheapening the value of handmade.

    On the other hand, even I'm surprised at how much some people are willing to pay for handmade items. My aunt is a jewelry artist and has such a deep respect for handmade that she'll support other artists and pay what things are worth. It's refreshing.

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  79. Anonymous12:15 PM

    Dear Anna Maria.
    How interesting to read the comments. Especially when I consider where all the women come from and what their personal needlework experience is. It's always been like that: new techniques and possibilities push away old skills. This is sad. It ist in deed a question of value. But we won't change the world. And this sometimes even turns me more sad.
    But, as the comments show, there is hope, that needleworking women share their skills in the internet, in tutorials, shows around the world. And very important is the renewal of old skills. Hardanger stichery, as Siv from Norway wrote, is an old technique - and there are many others here in Europe and everywhere in the world. Young people may not be interested in tablecloths but in extraordinary clothes. And thus they sometimes get in touch with handcraft.
    You and other designers inspire us to use old skills in an new modern way. This is a big chance.
    "Tradition is not bewaring the ashes but caring for the fire."

    Big hugs to all needleworking readers, Christine from Germany

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  80. Watching this makes me feel like I should be sharing my love of handcrafted items with others more. I'm 30 years old, and not many of my friends can embroider, or make anything for that matter. They look at the embroidery or clothing that I make with awe, but more so in a "wow I could never have the time or interest in doing that myself" kinda way.

    I have little 'crafty friday night parties' with some of my girlfriends every once in a while, complete with snacks and a few bottles of wine. I've gotten two of them hooked on doodle stitching, and another on crochet.

    When I have children, I will teach them the same skills my mother and grandmother taught me, as well as an appreciation for the craft. With the way the world is now, I think handcrafted arts will be more of a personal hobby than a career.

    Thanks for the post, lovely video!

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  81. thank you - wonderful food for thought...

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  82. What a great video. It really makes you think about the lost 'art' that's out there. A lot of items are being made by the mass and machine. I love the look of most hand made items. I would probably want to buy one or two of these laces to pass onto my daughters. I don't think generations to come would appreciate the difference of machine or handmade. It is more expensive to buy hand made because it takes longer to make but it sure last longer and therefore money better spent!

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  83. a beautiful video.

    such irony to think the handwork of days gone by was because many had to "make do"--and so they made it themselves and in doing so passed along handwork skills to future generations. it was considered being thrifty to do it yourself.

    and now, today, people are often forced to purchase "cheaper" necessities that are mass produced so that they can "make do".

    it's quite sad.

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  84. Anonymous9:04 AM

    i can't believe why in the world is china being blame all the time...the key word is "demand".... if there is no demand there is no market, right?!?!?! and BTW who created the busylifestyle that everyone is craving afterall... LOL

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  85. Sad. Please everyone with a talent ...share ....teach ....one day perhaps it will be appreciated once more. Most it is true cannot afford to pay for such handwork. Again, sad. I'm am learning quilting and starting embroidery , simple embroidery of course and not having much luck (talent?) with sewing clothes. so.....

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