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Handmade Vs. Handcrafted: What's the difference?

Ok, so I have absolutely no statistics to back up this statement, but it definitely feels that over recent years, there's been a huge shift from people wanting mass produced, factory made products to really appreciating the beauty of handmade or handcrafted items.

We're seeing lots of brands, including some bigger names, promoting that their products have been handcrafted, and handmade gift shops, like ours, are popping up everywhere! How great is that?!

But it does often leave people wondering what 'handmade' actually means. Does popping a charm on a chain mean it's handcrafted? The two terms are really similar, and most people use them interchangeably which is where the lines become blurred, but there is a difference.

 So, what do they really mean?

In general, when someone refers to something as handmade or handcrafted, they mean that the item has been made by hand, and not by a machine but this isn't quite right. 

Technically speaking, the terms are not the same. The main difference is how involved the maker, crafter or artist etc is in the production process. 

Here's the actual definitions:

Handmade adj. made by hand, or by a hand process

Handcrafted adj. made by handicraft

Handicraft noun. a skilled activity in which something is made in a traditional way with the hands rather than being produced by machines  

So let's break it down. Both include the use of hands to create the piece, but it's often understood that handmade means that machine production may have contributed to the production of raw materials or parts but that the assembly was done by hand.

Take most of our gorgeous earrings as an example like those made by Lemon Drop Designs and Silver & Birch. Whilst the actual design has been lovingly created by hand, whether it's sculpting clay or encasing in resin, the backings or hoops are generally machine made. This is for a few reasons including consistency, safety and affordability. Imagine how long it would take if the makers also had to make every little backing for a pair of studs - that's a whole different ball game!

When something is considered "handcrafted" it has been made almost entirely by hand, with the use of simple, traditional tools such as a paintbrush or a knife, and there was no machine involvement in the creating process.

So when you see our gorgeous prints by Becca Thorne, not only have they been beautifully designed by hand but she uses a printing technique called linocutting to actually print her wonderful designs by hand. She even uses Lokta paper which is also crafted by hand too!

Plus, all of our soaps, candles and bath bombs are handcrafted by artisans who work with raw ingredients such as goats milk or essential oils to create their final product. They also make their products in small batches using traditional methods so you can consider their work to be handcrafting too!

So, which is better?

Whilst you may automatically assume that you should always opt for handcrafted over handmade if you can, it's always worth considering both options depending on what it is you're looking for. It's not a matter of one being better than the other, both have a lot of love, creativity and hard work put in to them either way. 

There are also thousands of small businesses all over the UK who are run by one or two independent designers and it simply wouldn't be possible for them to produce every item completely by hand or it's simply not financially viable to do so. Again, imagine if every artist who printed their beautiful designs on tea towels also had to make the tea towel itself!

Also, certain products, like cards, can't be handcrafted as they need a precision finish and a high volume rate that requires the use of machinery. Plus, you need to consider that these independent businesses also have to strike the delicate balance between paying themselves a fair wage and their work being affordable for us which for many small businesses, means using machines to make their art accessible. And whilst there are loads of handcrafted gifts in Beeze's, we want to support these extremely talented people too!

So all things said and done, we consider ourselves a handmade gift shop, rather than a handcrafted one so that we can include the work of around 100 independent artists, makers, movers and shakers.  

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