Thursday, March 8, 2007

Industry in the Cottage

These little chicks are made by a homeschooling mother and she sells them in her online shop.

In the last month, I have read a lot of blogs of homeschooling mothers and also other stay-at- home women. I have been wonderfully impressed with the constant striving for beauty and creativity shown in many of the blogs I have read. It is a great source of inpsiration. From the blogs posted as favorites on one blog, you can find people with similar interests and creative skills or find homeschoolers and see what they are doing and comment on it and exchange ideas and information. You can also find a lot of links to inexpensive aids for creativity in sewing, quilting, and other handicrafts. There is also an online store that features handmade items, Etsy, which is a lot of fun.
I applaud those who try to work on their own and also make extra money for their family by selling items online and in craft markets and so forth. In our farmers' market, I found one elderly lady selling adorable girls' dresses that she had made. She said that she loved doing it and it gave her an income she could live on. It used to be that the home was not only a place of consumption but also a place for production, especially the kitchen. If you go to colonial museums or go see the Pennsylvania Dutch farmhouse kitchen at the Philadelphia Art Museum or other types of places, you will see that the kitchen area and the home in general were the habitat of busy bees, who were sewing, spinning, weaving, mending, making quilts, preserving, making candles, and many other activities. These goods were often not only for the home but also for sale in the area or the farmers' market (like Henner's Lydia needlepoint rug in the illustration below which she is going to sell at the market). It is literally cottage industry. These businesses were run by women for the most part, and both kept the women in the home and also brought in money. With the industrial age, of course, and even more so with globalization when you can pick up clothes for a dime, this is not necessary in the same way that it was in the colonial days. But it remains an option and it is a lot more fun than going to Target or K-Mart for cheap clothes and the result is a lot more rewarding.
Even so, today, it has been told to me, there has been a tremendous rise in home-based businesses, often Ma and Pa partnerships, in the years of the Bush Administration. In part this is a spin-off of the computer age, since with telecommuting, it is possible to advertise and transact business online or to work for a corporation from your home. All of this is to the good, since it makes the home a locus of activity, as opposed to a place where we "hang out when we nothing better to do" and enables parents to keep closer tabs on their children. Given the assaults on the family--from the feminist movement and the business world and from the invasion of privacy from the media, advertising, and the Internet--it is all to the good to my mind if parents, and certainly, the mother can conduct their activities--whatever they may be--at home all of the time or partially. It also cuts down on traffic.

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