Craft is a wonderful thing. The crinkled eyebrows, the watchful eyes, and the delicate fingers all make a craft what it is: a magnificent and complex piece of art. It demands the maker’s energy and time and unlike any other physical activity. It’s one of those things that drain you just even if you’re just sitting in one place with your head bent low.
To an observer, the craftsman is a scientist; a microbiologist. One who’s got eyes for nothing and no one around them. And that’s the beauty of a handmade object. It’s a part of a human’s life that they give away to someone else.
I saw a craftsman in Pondicherry a while ago. He was a shoe and footwear maker. He, along with the owner of the shop, makes and delivers custom footwear for customers about an hour or two after they place an order. But they also have a gallery of ready-made designs to can choose from.
While the owner was busy showing us around his little shop, the craftsman huddled with his tools near the pillar outside the shop. His eyes moved in tandem with his hands that stitched together leather and leather.
While his skin exploded with sweat, inside, the quaint shop exploded with colour. Yellow, red, and green straps crisscrossed with brown, black, and grey soles. I saw straight straps on one shelf and curled straps on the other, plain ones lying about and fancy ones folded up neat. The costs varied, too, from a few hundreds to a few more hundreds.
My friend raised eyebrows at the prices. It was a sad sight. Because there never is a fair price for the labour of human hands.
It’s human to first look at the product and then flip over the tag to check the price. Whether it’s a shirt or a shoe, we consider the price and weigh its worth.
It’s an instinct, yes. Still, when it comes to handmade crafts, what we think is high is never too high. Though we drool at a craftsman work, every time we roll our eyes at the price, we undermine the maker’s efforts. We need to realise: In this age of our lazy bones and sitting on our asses, it’s taxing to work through hundreds of needles and stitches every day.
That’s why we should learn to respect the ones who do, because, in a few years, no one will have the patience to dedicate the scrutiny involved in making handmade pieces.