The connotations attached to the word "handmade" have changed drastically in the digital age. The rise of online craft bazaar Etsy has opened the door for anyone and everyone to monetize their hobbies, allowing Grandma's knitted potholders to emerge from their dusty drawer and find a market on the Internet. The glut of adorable screen printing and mediocre beadwork that populates the Etsy-verse might seem low-caliber, but that's beside the point.
If stenciling birds on things makes you happy, then by all means, continue stenciling birds on things - Etsy's inclusiveness is about fostering creativity in everyone, not just the preternaturally talented artists. After all, Grandma's potholders weren't awesome because they were the best potholders. They're awesome because making them made Grandma happy.
That attitude about encouraging universal creativity is the idea behind the Etsy Craft Party 7 p.m. tomorrow. Etsy Dallas, a group of local Etsy crafters, is celebrating the Etsy site's sixth birthday by throwing a celebration of the handmade. Oak Cliff community craft mecca Oil & Cotton is playing host, featuring crafting activities (landscape necklaces, weaving, collage) for guests, spinning demonstrations, a screening of Handmade Nation as well as vendors selling their own handmade stuff. Geography-based community building on the Internet is a white-hot topic now that Foursquare has taken off, and Etsy Dallas is a prime example of how the Internet can successfully bring together people with similar interests in a local setting.
In this economy, buying locally handmade items is not only noble, it's necessary, so even if you don't have a crafty bone in your body, stop by the Etsy Craft Party to purchase goods made right here in Dallas. That bar of soap made by the lady down the street might be a bit pricier than a bar of Ivory, but it's scented with the sweet smell of local economy stimulation as well as patchouli, which, along with the secret ingredient (love, of course!), makes it worth every penny.
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