Monday, September 21, 2015

Artisanal Markets in Everything

Anthony Bourdain is doing a new show on "Raw Craft"
-- the lost art of making things by hand. This clip has it all -- meteorites, knives, fire, hammers, cooking, and back story. Love it!

The very idea of craft is disappearing in this world of Chinese-made plastic throwaways.

That said, when a pendulum swings too far to the left, counter forces tend to pull things back in the other direction, and so today we have a rise in expensive "artisanal" items. These are mostly being marketed to rich folks and, truth be told, the story behind the product is more important that the product itself. I am convinced I could sell "Ethnic Water" with nothing but a fabulous story-label about the rivers of the world ("Zambezi:  The Pulsing Heart of Africa," "Shannon: The Bubbling Heart of Eire in every bottle"), and never mind that it would say, in small but legible letters, that the water inside was New York City tap water run through a carbon block.

This is not to say that everything handmade and expensive is nonsense. Sometimes you are buying something totally impractical from a cost-and-utility point of view, but this special thing does wonders for the spirit and (might I say it?) the head. Life is too short not to have at least a little art in your life.

A solid case can be made, in fact, for paring away everything that does not rise to the level of art.

Perhaps what we really want is not more and bigger, but less and better.

Maybe what we need is not 50 Ikea knives with plastic handles, but one extraordinary knife made from a meteor.

But, of course, every good idea can be pushed to the edge or reduced to the absurd.

Over at the Bindle Brothers in Brooklyn, they are making "Locally-Grown, Naturally-Fallen, Artisanal Bindle Bags" from $80 to $350 apiece.  Yes, I believe it's a joke.

And then, there's artisanal firewood.

And did I mention artisanal pencil sharpening?  Artisanal pickle making? Artisanal jerky?  Artisanal mayonnaise?

For those who really want to go old-school artisanal, may I suggest making your own condoms? The United States Practical Receipt Book, first published in 1844, tell readers how to make all sorts of things, including "Baudruches, or Condoms."

Take the caecum of the sheep; soak it first in water, turn it on both sides, then repeat the operation in a weak ley of soda, which must be changed every four or five hours for five or six successive times; then remove the mucus membrane with the nail; sulphur, wash in clean water, and then in soap and water; rinse, inflate, and dry."

I will bet these condoms work as contraception devices too -- if you put one on, any sensible woman will run screaming!


Rick said...

Artisanal firewood? Must have been a slow day at the shop when they came up with that one!

jeff hays said...

I always wanted to market my own artisanal Louisiana Swamp Water with a Gator on the label, slightly cloudy,with a few pearls of translucent squishy tapioca for good measure.