Written by Margarita Morgan
August 7, 2014
When technology has brought along an infinite source of resources to make our lives much more comfortable and our time more efficient, we stand to loose details from traditionally made items that are now mostly overlooked and ignored. It is difficult to appreciate handcrafted items when our lives are constantly prompting us to appreciate practicality and efficiency. An item hand crafted in a traditional way stands to compete with objects that have been made abundant due to automation. Currently, unless you are in the line of appreciating art, most of those unique and precious crafts done by hand will most likely escape your notice. Among the things I still prefer in their handmade version are authentic folk dishes, knitted accessories and good old fashion spontaneous and unadulterated photography.
In recent years, home made traditional meals have been compromised by processed ingredients that allow families to enjoy a quick and hopefully nutritious meal, however the flavor is not necessarily as good as if people use original and natural ingredients. Even when we talk about a simple side dish like mashed potatoes, it is so much easier to open up a packet that already has seasonings and dehydrated potato flakes as supposed to the longer time it would take to boil the potatoes and the effort to mash and gather the rest of ingredients needed. It irks me to go to a restaurant and taste can ingredients used to make the meal such as using canned enchilada sauce when they should be making the sauce themselves. Yes, it is a process that requires more time and effort, but there is a remarkable improvement in taste and honestly, every restaurant should strive to offer the best they can do instead of lowering standards just because most people are used to the distinct flavor that is present in processed food. Some times I like to take the time to cook a meal from scratch. I don’t do it all the time and yes, I too use lots of processed food for their convenience. Once in a while however, I like to take the time and offer my family something special that I know they will enjoy.
One of the saddest things to see is how hand made knitted scarves and hats or virtually any other item made of yarn is completely overlooked in the sense that automation has deemed the knitted look so common, no one can really tell when a piece has been made by hand. I’m a knitting enthusiast and I love to crochet as well. While my kids and relatives appreciate the items I give them as presents, most people don’t give a second thought as to how they were made. Whenever I see a knitted item at a store that I like, my first thought is to try and figure out how I can make the same thing myself. It is an automatic thought, but my preference, even if I buy something made of yarn, it to try and replicate it merely because I can customize details that I would appreciate better. I was touched by the way one of my daughters put in storage some of her winter clothes. In one area she had her “treasured items” labeled as such and besides a winter ski hat, she had all the scarves, hats and arm warmers I have made for her. Hand made knitted items may be sometimes indistinguishable from those made by machines, but for those in the know we can tell and appreciate all the effort it took to make them.
Beautiful photographs are no longer the result of a life time of accumulated skills and knowledge. Anyone can produce a visually appealing picture with the help of popular computer programs; even your smart phone has basic editing features that help enhance color and retouch imperfections. It is difficult to differentiate whether a picture has been photoshopped or is the result of a combination of elements such as camera lenses, filters, angles and lighting that along with skill bring out life to an image that was captured at just the appropriate moment. Looking at these pictures is a feast of wonder for me. I’m always trying to take pictures that are spontaneous, but as an amateur, compelling images are not easily captured. I love it when a photographer is able to do so without the aid of computer enhancing techniques and when they are ingenious enough to create visual illusions using simple every day objects or by playing with lighting and camera angles. In recent years, the use of digital modifications has been so popular that when I see beautiful pictures, I immediately assume they have been photoshopped, but I suppose that digital imaging and modification will soon become an art of its own. Until then, I’ll take the photographer’s word that their pictures were not altered, in any case, I prefer to get one lucky shot out of a thousand. I treasure them better and seldom share them as supposed to those that I like to modify simply for the wow effect.
With such busy lives as we lead in modern times, traditional hand crafted treasures have been loosing spotlight among the crowds of mass produced and technologically modified items that surround our daily routines. Whether or not we appreciate the sentimental or emotional value of a special family recipe, a lovingly knitted scarf or an original picture, these hand made items are mostly at a loss for recognition unless a person is actually looking for the artful way in which they are presented. Automation has helped to bring practicality into our lives. We are busy and enjoy the easier way food has been premade for us as much as the ability to purchase ready made accessories, but even when we don’t give a second thought at the origin of pictures we see everyday, we should take the time to appreciate the effort others make in creating these and other handcrafts simply for the sake of preserving traditions.
Automation has made it possible to produce so many objects — from bread to shoes — without the intervention of human hands (assuming that pressing a button doesn’t count). What things do you still prefer in their traditional, handmade version?