Friday, January 24, 2014

Mason Jars

I know you've seen pictures of Mason jars on the internet lately. Pinterest, blogs, Facebook, even just on other news websites. They're everywhere! And now, they're apparently the subject of commentary.

It started with a slightly-snotty opinion piece by a writer who encouraged us to see that sometimes, DIY-ing projects is foolish. She certainly makes an interesting point: we don't necessarily save money by doing projects ourselves. The poor Mason jar served as a lightning rod, particularly because it has become so popular.

But, actually, before I'd read the original, I came across a link to this responsive piece on the Country Living website. She defends DIY projects, noting that there's something to be said for doing projects for ourselves rather than buying them pre-made. She also defends the Mason jar, sharing some of the great history of the jar and the hard work that our country was built upon.

I'm not really here to get into the debate about whether making crafts is feminist, which is part of the undercurrent in both of the articles mentioned above. I don't know, and I don't care, as it pertains to other people. I do the crafts I do because I enjoy them. No one makes me feel like I have to do them, and I don't really care what other people think about the finished product. The only exception is when the project is a gift, in which case I care some about the recipient's views.

And while I was noodling about the questions raised in both the critique and the response, I ran across this end cap at Target. Plastic "mason" jars, with the word Aladdin scrawled on the front, that are now meant for drinking and traveling? Yeesh.

I don't have strong feelings about Mason jars in general. I know they're some people's style, but they're not really mine. That's not to say I don't find them charming, but I'm on overload with everything I've seen on the internet. To an extent, I'm with the critic: stop shoving pictures of Mason jars in my face. Anything else, please!! But, then, I look at this and I want to scream: YUCK! This is what happens when we outsource our style to a big company. Sure, I could find Pinterest instructions as to how to make some kind of lidded drinking glass out of a Mason jar. But why bother when I could plunk a ten spot at Target and walk away with this, right? That's what the critic would want me to do!

So here is my response to these writers, and the internet at large: there are some crafts I make because I really enjoy doing the craft itself. The prime example is knitting - in general, I find it very relaxing. But, for the most part, I make crafts because that's the way that I get what I really want. I wish I'd been blogging when I moved into my first apartment. I wanted to decorate my bedroom in pink and green, and I couldn't find anything in that color scheme. It was August, I wanted Easter. But, the perfect shades of pink and green craft paint were available. I slapped it on everything I could find. I make a lot of the jewelry I do because I'm seeking something in a particular style, color and length. Its so often that I start making something only because I've been out shopping and I've struck out completely. I guess I could get more active on Etsy, or other internet based options, though I actually do relatively little shopping online. I really prefer to observe things in person - I get a better feel for the size, texture, shape, color and sturdiness of whatever it is I'm shopping for. When you put that all together, you get a crafter like this one!

I think that, even if sometimes making it yourself is actually more expensive, especially when it comes to time, it can be worth it if that's the means by which you stay true to your style. If your style is the Aladdin brand mason jar, go for it. But, if not, I think its worth the energy to make the thing you really want. Just do it!

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