JavaScript is required to view this page.
Skip to content

Country

Language

Close (esc)

Stay in touch

Get a 10% OFF promo code

Applicable for 2024.

Announcements for limited editions, stories and simple tips.
Unsubscribe anytime. Data not shared nor sent.

What do we mean by ''handmade'' ?

We see it everywhere, we hear some talking about it by implying quality. What does it really mean for something to be made by hand?
why is handmade better
In factories all over the world you will find machines. Otherwise it's a small workshop and even there you'd find machines. The kind of work the machines do however is different, or to put it in other words, the involvement of humans in the work with the machines is completely different for products made by hand and for industrial scale productions.
Almost all machines require human supervision. All parts, no matter what industry someone talks about, require quality control by humans. Visual, technical and chemical checks happen all the time.
The production of handmade goods doesn't mean there are no machines. It means that machines are there to assist the work of a craftsman.
Let's take polishing as an example process. To polish a knife or a part for a car you'd need a day of work to do it exclusively by hand. This means that a kitchen knife would cost thousands of euros. Today machines rotate the polishing belts that craftspeople use.
japanese crafts
Because of that, the price of handmade products actually went down over the years. Craftspeople can now make products as well as try to improve their craft. They still pay attention to all pieces they produce one by one, before those pieces even make it to quality control.
Similarly, if you wish to purchase a Rolls Royce or a Ferrari, all parts, inside and out, are made by hand. This doesn't mean someone lifted the melted metal by himself to make a handmade engine. The entire team used some equipment, but every engine and part were supervised, perfected by human hands all the way of the production process.
Ferrari handmade
I hope this slightly clarifies the big grey zone that has formed over the last few years about handmade products and old school craftsmanship.
By contrast, factories that mass produce products, barely rely on humans. If there is quality control it happens at the very end of the production line. This means that many defective products are pushed to customers to keep costs down for the factory. It's cheap, because it's cheap. 
You get what you pay for.
In our lifetime we already witness land, ocean, and air pollution going wild, climate change making weather more erratic. Our approach as shoppers is partially to blame. If we prefer to buy something cheap and never take care of it, and replace it next year, we promote the kind of production that never ends, always produces, always pollutes. We now know that's not sustainable.
Suwada stands with a few companies that promote handmade products. Profits are one thing. But if we neglect our roots and values, why operate? We chose the harder game to make perfect items. We chose to promote them.
In our case, we can produce a few thousand products per year, with 60 craftspeople working in a new, modern factory in Japan. Everything is made as we discussed, by hand, by craftspeople, using machines only to assist them, honing their skills over decades.
Our quality has reached such levels that our nail nippers last for more than 15 years you take a little care of them. If there is something wrong we fix it by sending the items back to the factory for maintenance. On average people in Europe buy at least two nail clippers per year.
That means that in 15 years you'd use about 30 nail nippers. That's 30 pieces of sharp metal thrown in landfills, mostly in Africa, and plastic wraps tossed in the ocean. And you can make your own cost calculations.
And they don't even cut well...
In 2015 in China alone, factories produced one billion disposable nail clippers. That's the production of one country, of one product we think disposable, in a single year. Compare this to a few thousand pieces that will last for a decade, and imagine how an economy changes by our own choices, on a daily basis.
choices
Quality is tied to the notion of a handmade product. But it's not just about quality. It's about culture, about design, the continuation of craftsmanship, the longevity of a product and the approach we take to consumerism. It is also about teaching people and the next generation about taking care of the stuff they own.
These are lessons we only learn by doing. The good thing is that you don't have to change to do it.
If you found this article interesting, I'd be grateful if you shared it once. Our work depends on word of mouth, and in the digital world we can only do it with sharing!
Older Post
Newer Post
Back to top