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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What are your boundaries as a handmade artist?

I was just doing a preliminary scan for this week's Friday Fun Finds when a thought came to me (scary as that is!) I had found a gorgeous piece using butterflies, and given the fact that summer is finally coming down the lane in the Northern Hemisphere, I decided to make that the theme. I found some beautiful pendants that were created using actual butterfly wings. And I wasn't sure how I felt about that.

I'm not going to list any of the pieces here, because I don't want any artist to feel I am calling them out. These pieces were drop-dead gorgeous, as you can probably imagine if you've seen how gorgeous some butterflies can be. And the artists I viewed all made reference to the fact that the butterflies they used were gained in a responsible and legal manner, and none were endangered. One even commented how part of the proceeds will go to conservation efforts, which I applaud greatly.

I have discovered a boundary for myself as an handmade artist.

However, I am still put off a bit by the idea of using a once living creature in my creations, simply for the purpose of adorning myself with its beauty. Part of me thinks I am over-reacting and being a bit prudish about the whole situation. But, I have discovered a boundary for myself as an handmade artist.

Because I entered the handmade world when I began doing jewelry and glass lampwork beads, I already knew I had a problem with cheap imports, both as an economic threat and as a ethical issue. I knew there were some gemstones and metals that were to be avoided based on mining practices and quality of goods. Those seem like pretty cut and dry boundaries, at least for me.

I am wondering if anyone else has discovered their own personal boundaries when created homemade goods. Do you avoid any chemical processes? Are there materials you won't use? Are there techniques you avoid because they can somehow be harmful?

Let us know.

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