Wedding albums 101 - "Handmade"

  • Moleskines are machine-made and mass-produced but are pretty well designed, of decent-quality materials, at an affordable price. But when is a moleskine better than a hand-crafted journal? I would say when the hand-crafted journal is made by an amateur, without training or experience (decidedly not soignée), from below-average materials, and when that journal is more than twice or three times as expensive! I strongly support crafts but there's a long tradition of book-making that I represent, and it burns me up when bad books are listed at unreasonably high prices. Don't splurge on an expensive object just because it's handmade. Make sure it's good, and up to high standards! If not, stick with something machine-made but tasteful, like a moleskine or the like.
  • If you look into the market for custom wedding albums you will find the term "handmade" used a lot. We use it too! But unfortunately the term is ambiguous. Like "archival," "all-natural," and "artisanal." So when a company tells you a product is "handmade," you should poke around for more details. Like:
    • What parts of it are handmade?"
    • "What are the steps in production - can I see them?" 
    • "Who is making the products - whose hands are actually doing the making - are they craftsmen, or are they just putting something into a machine?" 
    • And, perhaps most importantly, "would a handmade product actually be better than something cheaper and more standardized?" (Remember the moleskin!)
  • I came across a video from a "handcrafted" wedding album company that I want to harp on for a minute. This video shows a nearly totally mechanized bookbindery. But I'm I'm scandalized because they call their albums handmade! Sorry, actually they say "handcrafted," even. Swanyee use machines in the binding process for some steps. For cutting edges we may use a mechanized guillotine; we use presses all the time to keep our book blocks neat; we use a stamping press to impress complex designs onto covers. But this video was upsetting because it shows that all the steps of production which require skill and technical experience have been mechanized. So I consider that this product was assembled by unskilled labor -- and that's fine! -- but calling it handmade is not accurate. And unfortunately they're not alone.