Telling Stories Behind What We Make

Makers and Telling Stories Behind What We Make

Have you heard the term makers? Basically, a maker is anyone who is making things. If your grandmother enjoying quilting or crocheting, or if your dad does woodwork, they are makers. For our purposes in this discussion, makers are people who make things for people they love. Let's jump into telling stories behind what we make.

I thought it would be fun to talk about the makers in our lives and how we tell the stories behind the things we make for those we love. Do we know the stories behind what they make?

I love making things for people. When I give those things to them, if we have time, I like to share how I was feeling when I made it, why I made it, and what inspired me to make it. That’s me telling them the story of the thing I made.

When someone in your family has made you something, they’re telling you how much they love you.

Makers and why they make things

Stories of the Makers of the Past

If you have a moment after you get something that was made by someone you love, take a little time and jot it down really fast. It doesn’t have to be crazy long. Just write a few details about the item. Plus, with everything being digital, you can even start taking pictures of those items and add them to your notes.

I’m going to start doing this for myself including:

  • Why they made it.
  • What was the occasion.
  • The date we received it.

In a quick bullet form, I add the story the person told me. It doesn’t have to be complicated or hard or even pretty.

Document Today’s Makers and Gifts

If you’re a maker yourself, think about how you’re approaching that storytelling side when you’re giving something to someone. If you have a maker in your family who has given something to you, you may be inclined to go back to them and ask questions. Ask the story so you can write it down.

I can almost guarantee that the person is going to be really excited that you remembered the gift was from them and that you care enough to learn more about the story of the piece.

We often forget that the blankets and things like that are art pieces. They are art that your loved one created. Even though it’s not hanging in the Met or a major art museum, it’s still art.

These hand-made items are a part of their soul, of who they are. And they shared that with you.

If you don’t know the stories, ask, especially if you still have the chance. And if you can’t ask the person who made it, maybe think about asking people who received similar items. What was their experience? You may even want to ask that in addition to asking the person who gave it to you, if possible.

Capture Makers’ Stories for the Next Generation

Where I live in Butler, Pennsylvania, we have the Butler farm show. Every year they have an artwork contest and a quilting contest. Some of the quilts have the stories behind them, why someone made something. I love seeing that and what inspired them.

Some even include photos with the stories to make it easier for us to connect with those pieces we didn’t initially understand because the artist isn’t standing next to us. It’s great when galleries do this on a gallery card.

For the makers in your life, you could take the time to write that little gallery card and attach it to the item, so that when that person is gone, you’ll still have the memories.

If you have a maker in your family, take the time to find out the story. It will help you keep those memories alive not only for yourself but for the next generation.

You can tell the story of your loved ones with The Legacy Recorder. This free resource will get you started.

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