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Artisanal Pickle Makers and Handmade Scotland

Did anyone read the New York Times article, posted earlier this year about artisanal pickle makers?  I kept a copy because it resonated with me.  The article spoke about a shift in the economy away from high-volume, low margin products to low volume, high quality, handmade products. The handmade story is far from new, but I was excited that “handmade” received mainstream acknowledgement.  Why?  Because “handmade” is all about stories.

We, as consumers, entertainers and gift givers, use these stories in conversations around the table.  These stories teach us about history, art, design, politics, perspective, business, and tradition.

For example, I have a wide ceramic bowl in my house, that mockingly states “Not Made In China.” The bowl, made by Montreal ceramist, Hugo Didier, was given to me by a friend as a housewarming gift, which she bought at a Toronto craft event.  It just so happens that this bowl has two sentimental meanings.  Firstly, her and I met in Hong Kong on a semester abroad.  Secondly, I spent a considerable amount of time studying Chinese, and living and working in the country.  So for me, when I use the bowl and a guest asks me about its origins, there are numerous stories and memories connected to the piece.

This one bowl could spawn numerous conversations about my experience in China, or one about the “anti-made in China” sentiment, or about my friend or the designer.

Artisanal pickle makers aside, there is a whole world full of artists, designers and small businesses honing their crafts and making products by hand, which means there are a lot of stories to learn about and share.

I discovered Papa Stour, an e-commerce site devoted to showcasing contemporary crafts from Scotland, and thought to myself, “cool-” I’ve never been to Scotland, I know nothing about “Scottish crafts” let’s see what it’s about.  Weaving and lambs wool comes to mind, but sure enough, there is more!

Papa Stour was set up in 2005 by Rosie Brown, a stylist who did work for Elle Decor, Living Etc. and the White Company (ah-ha! That’s why she has such a good eye).

Some of my favourite items from Papa Stour:

Counter Magazine6
01 Long Handle Large Bowl Silver (coffee or tea measuring) Spoon by Barney 02 Stoneware Pinch Pot by Tom 03 Ship’s Crew Russian Dolls by Allistair 04 Ceramic Milk Jug by Cosima 05 Ceramic Flower Vase or Jug by Lara 06 Ceramic Teacup with Bird by Kevin

It’s not always the case, but I have to ask: How often do you learn the story attached to an item from a mainstream or multinational brand?  It depends right?  I know for myself, I am more motivated to do a little digging when an object is coming from a small business, but that’s just me.

Happy discovery!

Artisanal Pickle(d) Recipes (in case you were inspired by the article to pickle something of your own):

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