Are we a handmade economy? There is an effort by a younger generation to learn how to make things with their hands like generations past. What I think a lot of people don’t see, is the years of dedication that some have put in to making something from nothing. This isn’t just a movement or a trend but, a way of life some live that is hardworking and romanticized.
The food movement has a farm to fork mentality but, so do craftspeople. A good friend of mine, Matt Jenkins is a blacksmith and he often says, “If you get me some steel wool, I’ll knit you a Volkswagen.” It’s that DIY, build it from scratch, use local products mentality that has surfaced over the past few years that’s intriguing. There’s pockets of this all over but, it’s places like Brooklyn and Portland that seem to get the attention.
You may have seen Matt, under the name of Cloverdale Forge, at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Harvest Sun Festival or set up next to The Cube during Nuit Blanche this past summer. He learned to blacksmith from his dad who, I think learned from his.
I’ve seen him hammer away on a piece of cold, unforgiving steel and make it into something soft, inviting and functional. He has a dedication to giving back and teaching, that will carry on to the next generation of blacksmiths whether it’s at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina or at the Cloverdale Craft School that Matt and his family run.
From his boyhood home near Selkirk, Manitoba at Cloverdale Farm, the Cloverdale Craft School holds courses that teach you skills in blacksmithing, timber framing, natural dyes and storytelling, to name a few. The farm has catered for private events like weddings and farmhouse dinners to house concerts and contra dances. It’s these types of experiences that people young and old, local or not need to be part of and enjoy.
The Cloverdale Farm supports the handmade economy through its courses at the craft school, and supporting the rural economy and culture through its events. I came across a paper titled, ‘Economic Impact of the Professional Craft Industry in Western, North Carolina’. They list that the professional craft industry there,
- - Provides jobs and encourages new business…
- - Attracts tourists…
- - Represents a clean, sustainable industry that will remain in the region
- - Educates the public about the history and heritage of this unique and culturally rich area
- - Enhances learning for local elementary, high school and college level students
(For the entire paper go here - http://www.handmadeinamerica.org/assets/WNC-professional-craft-econmic-impact.pdf)
Small sampling aside, if we work towards developing and supporting a professional craft industry in Manitoba, imagine what may come of it.
There’s a number of initiatives in Manitoba that you should keep track of. Here’s a list of some:
Cloverdale Farm/Cloverdale Craft School - http://cloverdalefarm.ca
Manitoba Craft Council - http://manitobacraft.ca
Winnipeg Fashion Incubator - http://wpgfashionincubator.com
Harvest Moon Society - http://www.harvestmoonsociety.org