Currently inside writing a chapter on why people make things by hand and the definition of 'handmade' as it differs between visual arts and applied arts. Came across the Cumulus Project, which makes 'one of a kind, one project at a time'. Love the 'stump stool'.
Most of the research on the current resurgence in handcraft points towards the link between an increasingly technological work and home life and the desire to engage in tactile pursuits during leisure time. Then of course, there is the process of the handmade craft going 'online' through digital representations on blogs. This part of the thesis has been fun to formulate. As it does not signal purely a rejection of technology but an embracement - on the terms of the indie crafter. As consumerism runs rampant, the crafter is able to gain satisfaction through making and participate in ethical consumerism.
A perfect example of this is the buy handmade pledge, a consortium of groups asking people to sign up and pledge to only buy handmade for "themselves and their loved ones".
While I agree with the idea of supporting local, independent designers/crafters/artists - I will admit that I don't always strictly adhere to the idea of a 'pledge'. The rise in crafts markets over the past two years in my town is making it easier to buy handmade and support local artists. It can be difficult to make the considered choice to always buy handmade for everyone but it is absolutely worth supporting.