Don't look at the price. Look at the value.
Those who have the pleasure of working with their hands also have the displeasure of feeling the devaluation of their work on their skin. How many times have you been ashamed to say that your profession is to be a craftsman? How many times has handicraft been seen as a hobby of the housewife who, while taking care of the children, takes the opportunity to make a little extra money to complete the salary of her husband who works in the factory?
How many times have you felt inferior to someone, for not having an ''admired'' profession in society? A doctor, a lawyer… even working at the supermarket (which is no shame at all), manages to be taken as a more seriously profession than saying he makes a living from handicrafts. Or is it that in reality, as my artisan parents did all their life, you are surviving from the Arts and Crafts, and that is why we have reached the 21st century with very good handicrafts on the brink of extinction?
To understand the importance of this craft is to learn about the dynamics of a culture, especially Portuguese culture, in all its complexity and beauty.
The Beginning of Arts and Crafts
We could say that the first artisans in this world were Adam and Eve — since handicrafts have existed since the beginning of human history.
As early as the Neolithic era, man polished stone, made pottery and discovered that he could weave with animal and vegetable fibers. We can conclude that crafts are present in everything we have today. It was the beginning of everything. Fashion, for example, began through handicrafts as early as antiquity. So how can we devalue something that is, and was, so important in world history?
Over the years, there have been several drastic changes in society that have led to the decay of the arts and crafts — which we'll talk about in more detail in the future — but it was mainly the entry of industrial mechanization that made the Craftsman essential to be known as ''one who manufactures popular culture'' — which in itself remains a great achievement.
''What for some is nothing more than ground, clay in the artisan's hands becomes rare.'' — João Claus Bienemann
Having said that, have you ever stopped to think about how crafts nowadays are very much associated with the typical tradition and culture of some region, city or even country? How can we devalue something like this? Devaluing crafts is devaluing more than those who do it. It's devaluing who we are, our roots.
Crafts in Portugal
Example #1 — based on the real life of a craftsman:
Last July 11th at SOMOS PORTUGAL on TVI — you can review our participation here! — We had the opportunity to meet a Pottery Craftsman from our parish, Porto De Mós — in the center of Leiria on the way to Fátima, where you can also visit our Atelier and physical store here.
Now in his 50s, he shared with us, artisans of reed basket weaving, as he is currently the only artisan in his village to work clay, and since after him there will be no one else to continue this legacy.
''Because I've never met a millionaire Potter.'' — he said.
It hurts. And not because we need to be millionaires — few are the professions that allow us to — but because we need to be valued. Us. The Artisans.
Example #2 — the internationalization of handicraft:
''In Póvoa de Varzim, a traditional shirt costs €30. Tory Burch stylist asks for €695 and does not recognize origin.'' — read article. ''American stylist from Tory Burch who "copied" Poveira sweater will correct error.'' — read article. ''American stylist Tory Burch apologizes and wants to "fix the mistake." — read article.
Have you ever heard of any of these titles? It was a big bomb in traditional media — and with good reason. But have they learned their lesson? And we are not referring to Americana, but Portuguese — did they learn from this story?
Let's start at the beginning: in short, Tory Burch — a luxury fashion brand founded in New York, which claims to empower women and women entrepreneurs — was ''inspired'' by the culture and tradition of the Portuguese Poveiros, and the result was nothing less than a copy of the typical Póvoa de Varzim sweater in a pattern that reflects the tradition of more than 150 years of this, at a price that would say fair, €695, if this value were sold by artisan himself — which in reality is €30.
How surprised we are, when the artisans themselves show more indignant, not because of the price, but because of the copy of Americana, and they vent that only one shirt has 50 hours of craft work. Apart from materials, publicity, advertising, fees that must be paid to the government, electricity, working conditions...
Now, we ask: if these shirts are sold for €30 in local associations, how much do artisans who worked 50 hours per shirt earn?