Have you ever found something you made/gave someone as a gift at a thrift shop?
A couple of weeks ago I had my first experience of finding one of my handmade items at a thrift shop for sale – one of the little wallets I used to make. This experience got me pondering about the handmade gifts you give people and what becomes of them (and how sometimes you have to just let go for the sake of your own sanity and peace).
Found at the Thrift Shop
I was obsessed with making little wallets for a while from fabric scraps and here is one of my posts about my obsession – Little Wallet Madness.
I would give them as gifts with my tierneycreates business card inside as an example of how you can use the little wallet. I also gave away five little wallets during the tierneycreates Blog 4th Anniversary Celebration (Announcing the Winners of the tierneycreates Blog’s 4th Anniversary Giveaway).
It was serendipitous that I found the little wallet at the thrift shop and it was sort of like the Universe wanted me to find it.
I had just finished having lunch with a friend and felt compelled to visit a local charity thrift shop after our lunch. I wandered around, not knowing why I was there and then felt drawn to the purse and wallet section.
Inside the used purse and wallet section, I found this adorable item for my sister who loves Lululemon – a little zippered wallet made from recycling a Lululemon bag:
My sister has a collection of Lululemon bags and this little wallet was the perfect treat for her. So I thought – “Wow, I guess I was supposed to come in here and find this for my sister!”. Just in case there might be another one, I kept rummaging through the used wallet section and came upon this:
It looked familiar and I thought: “Ah someone else must have made little wallets like I did”
But then after inspection I discovered something shocking: an old tierneycreates business card inside the wallet!
I stood there in the thrift shop, mouth open, feeling like I was having an out of body experience.
What bothered me was not that someone no longer wanted one of my handmade little wallets and donated it (that was better than them just throwing it out); but that they just left my business card inside (note this is one of my old business cards from when I used to have an Etsy shop, etc.)
I may have narrowed it down to who could have done this and at the moment I felt like it was obviously a person without any class – a person with class would have removed and recycled my business card before donating (I’ve since calmed down from my initial reaction…).
Of course I purchased it (it was only 50 cents) along with the Lululemon little wallet for my sister. I removed and recycled my old business card from it and put it away for now. At a later time I will decide whether to regift it to someone or to re-donate it to the charity thrift shop (but not with my business card inside).
What Becomes of the Handmade Gifts We Give?
Many times you know what becomes of the handmade gifts you give people – either they love, cherish and use them or they do not. They might regift them, they might donate them, they might even throw them away. Or they might just shove them in the closet to gather dust.
This is something I’ve struggled with as a crafter and quilter and had to work on letting go – once you give someone something, it is theirs to do with what they want – even if it might be heartbreaking to you.
People who are not crafters or artists may not understand the love that goes into something that is handmade and how essentially a piece of the maker goes into the piece (and not just if you stuck yourself with a needle while making the piece and bled a little on it like I’ve done a time or two – ha!)
Sometimes my heart breaks for the maker when I see a beautiful handmade item sold for cheap at thrift shop. I’ve rescued lovely granny square afghans from thrift shops (usually sold for $2 – $3) as I know how much work goes into this type of project and I love granny square afghans but have yet to make one myself.
On the overstuffed chairs in our front window where we read (and I work on blog posts) I have rescued granny square afghans from my collection as well as on the bench where Mike our miniature schnauzer hangs out to watch cats, birds and passing dogs out the window (to practice his barking).
Here is Mike napping on one of the rescued afghans:
I do not want to become a hoarder and I know I cannot rescue all the beautiful handmade items that have been donated to thrift stores. I only rescue granny square afghans if they are exceptionally appealing and under $5, that is my guideline, but still how many granny square afghans does one person need?
A friend of mine told me a story of how she discovered a neighbor’s husband using a quilt she made her neighbor to mop up an oil spill in a garage. To me this sounds much worse than finding something you made donated at a thrift shop.
What I’ve learned as I mature as a maker is that I need to be very selective of who receives my handmade items. Also I’ve learned to that sometimes you need to just let go of your attachment to the handmade item when you gift it.
Sometimes it hurts when someone does not fully appreciate the work and time that went into a handmade item but I have to remember unless they are a maker, a crafter, an artist, or any type of creative individual they may never understand.
Life is a balance of holding on and letting go. – Rumi