We are all living in an age where accumulating crappy junk is very easy but getting a hold of nice things is easier than it ever has been before as well… or at least, the nice trivial things. Others are addicted to shopping so I benefit from hardly used, name brand garments at the thrift store. The internet allows me to take a high quality set of skis off someones hands for a quarter of the retail price. Being an artist I am also lucky enough to be in the right places at the right time to scoop up “bargain art”.
Sometimes that means trading my art for the creations of others. Other times that means a vendor or friend discount. But, looking around my home I also see many pieces that came to me free or at a good discount because they are flawed in the eye of the maker. Of course, some of my artist friends are also makers of functional items who have a specific standard to meet either for themselves or for their craft.
My coffee mug, for example, has brought me joy every day that it has been clean enough to use. I purchased it from the seconds box at a friends booth. She confessed to me, at the time, that she was torn about even offering the seconds to the public because she wanted to put forth quality items. She assured me that they were all functional, just not up to snuff.
Mine has a crack in the bottom on the outside and a few birth marks on the inside. Otherwise, it holds coffee, warms in the microwave and stands up straight and is very sturdy. On top of that it has a wonderful scene of two foxes meeting in a birch forest. I just love it and feel lucky to have it.
Another item I have is a rustic cabin-style bench that was gifted me by a very talented artist of local renown. Locals and tourists alike drop high dollars on this mans unique wares. Not only does he make the furniture by hand, from scratch and local materials with as few fasteners as possible, he is also a creative visual artist adding wood burning, painting and decoupage accents to his work.
My bench, something I could not otherwise afford, is long enough for two modest behinds, with two arms, 4 legs and a wind-battered tree reaching for the sun depicted on the seat. It is great for putting on boots, holding my groceries and helping the cat up to his food bowl. This all despite having a few cracks in the legs.
How long these two defective items will last likely depends more on my care than on what happened when they were being made. Artists and makers holding themselves to a high standard is very respectable and a good thing. I find it a shame, however, that some patrons will be quite scrutinizing of such things then go to a box store and buy some mass-produced POS that was designed to get used up quickly, thrown away and replaced. I suspect I will be putting groceries on my bench through many iterations of vacuum cleaner, television, cook ware and trash cans.
As for the foxes… no mug is safe in my household.