The Charlotte Ledger recently featured a store selling costly bling for pets. Years ago, I would have rolled my eyes. Clucked my tongue. Questioned where the world was headed.
These days I view costly, even frivolous, items through a different lens. The lens of economics, creativity, and legacy.
Picture our ancestors as penny-pinching conformists. No Palace of Versailles. No treasures of Tutankhamun. No intricately woven baskets, or beaded broaches. Downton Abbey women wearing sackcloth. No colorful textiles, brocades. No marvels of architecture. What a drab world this would be.
My economic revelation came as an aghast observer of a $20,000 gown. I was asked: Who made the fabric, the beads, the silk threads, the buttons? Who designed, fitted, sewed, and perfected? How many people, how many hours to create this regal gown? The gown had employed many people, was an outlet for their creative gifts. The sellers made money. Artisans retained their skills. The buyers made contributions to assure that future. The economic wheel does another spin.
Look closely at simple or exquisite, pottery forms. Consider what is needed to make and deliver that object: Clay, kiln, wheel, tools, time, labor, breakage, skills, storage. How can they sell for so little? How can they part with hand-created treasures? Potters don’t get rich. Buyers add a layer of history, inspiration, and beauty to their world. It’s a win-win. Current enjoyment. The future of our crafts sustained.
Would I buy a diamond dog leash, or a $20 thousand gown? No. Not even at Last Call. Would I buy a handsome piece of hand thrown pottery? Yes. The best I could afford. Beauty, fun, the future, are all in the eye of the beholder.
The real question is: What’s it worth to you, to the maker, the market, the future?
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