Friday, November 9, 2012

PEN-CRAFT – A Handmade Man

The first article in the PEN-CRAFT series

felt hat by CraftbyMaryla
We are launching a series of articles on the handmade fashion issue. For starters E-Muu Gallery is going to stir up a hornet’s nest and takes a closer look at the sex bias. It is a fact generally acknowledged that it is women who constitute the largest clientele for crafted goods. Just spare a minute or two browsing through any e-store offering handmade items or website devoted to arts and crafts and you will learn that the offer is either mainly or exclusively aimed at female customers. Things don’t look good for men on another handmade market niche too – most blogs featuring such products are made and run by ladies. Same goes with majority of entries found on ‘how to…?” fora. Why is that?

Male cufflinks by E-Muu Gallery
First and foremost, one has to ask himself whether ‘handiwork’ and ‘male’ really go together like apple pie and ice-cream. In today’s world, despite the blaring omnipresence of slogans proclaiming gender neutrality, tolerance, equal rights and so forth, the dynamics observed in the social consciousness may prove otherwise. Many of the professions, hobbies and interests once naturally associated with men when annexed into the realm of women’s attention, get automatically tagged as non-male, and so they seem to be viewed as a jeopardy to macho dignity and harm to the testosterone pumping through the biceps. Male teachers, dentists or accountants are near extinction. The number of young men architects and psychologists is on a decline too. Males still hold the few scattered men (almost) forts they are left.

Leather Bracelet by BOVETTA
The situation is no different in areas such as folk art, crafts and handmade. Not so long ago most occupations and professions related to the traditional arts and crafts were the male domain – as it is mainly men that took to wicker, pottery, carpentry and coopering. Crafts has so far been a men specialty as well – a goldsmith, stained glass artist, jeweler, ceramics artist or bookbinder, to name a few. A good example to illustrate that is one of a traditional crafts course entitled “carpentry  –  traditional folk furniture” that took place last year in a well-known centre for craft education. There were 8 trainees. Guess what –all of them adorable ladies. As a result, half of them rather than build furniture, carved wooden flowers and butterflies.

Man scarf by DagnyKnit
The world has changed greatly and women now bravely attempt the previously ‘men’ jobs. There is nothing wrong about it of course, apart maybe from the fact that it only relocates the social perceptive border of male and female roles without really changing anything. The process, once it has begun for one field or another, seems unstoppable, and the divisions only grow bigger. In case of handmade items, the self-fulfilling prophecy becomes ever more evident when you realise the importance of the crafter – buyer relation. I mean, the more professional or semi-professional handcrafting women you get, the larger proportion of the customer base is composed of women. The result is that on the most popular internet portals specializing in sale of handmade items the men-aimed offer is meagre. It really doesn’t take a genius to come up with dozens of such products: a felted wool and silk tie, soutache cufflinks, skull-themed Tiffany lamp or ceramic shaving kit holder....
Oh well, let’s just hope the above contentions are not entirely correct, so that handmade and crafts become a universal fashion not solely associated with earrings and pink flowers sewn onto a cushion.

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