Book Review: Made by Hand, Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World

Made by Hand: My Adventures in the World of Do-It-Yourself ; Mark Frauenfelder, editor of Boing Boing and editor in chief of MakeMade by Hand, Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World, by Mark Frauenfelder; Published by Portfolio, New York, 2010 RRP AU$29.99 (paperback). Currently available on Fishpond $14.55 .

There are at least three driving forces behind the cultural movement towards DIY activities.

One is frugality. In a time when there is so much financial instability on a global level, being able to make things by hand can bring a comforting sense of self-sufficiency, and can often be a real money saver. If you eat a lot of yoghurt, making your own can certainly save you money. On a much larger scale, if you can do your own plumbing, carpentry or sewing you can likely save quite a bit more.

Another is the desire to live more ethically and sustainably:  making your own clothes instead of wearing clothes made in sweatshops, cooking from scratch instead of buying food filled with preservatives and other chemicals, building your own hen house out of scrap materials rather than using up new resources dug out of the ground or cut down from a forest and then shipped to you at more cost to the environment. All these can make a claim of greater sustainability.

A third driving force is a certain disenchantment with aspects of modern life. It is a desire to slow down, smell the roses and feel the texture of the wood. To develop a stronger connection to the world around you, and a better understanding of the items you use everyday. It is largely this desire to experience life more fully, or at least, in a different way, that motivated Mark Frauenfelder to become a do-it-yourselfer.

Mark Frauenfelder is perhaps best known for his incredibly successful blog,, but he has other claims to fame. He is editor-in-chief of Make magazine,  father to two girls, husband to writer Carla Sinclair, and author of several books, among them Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World. And once you start reading Made by Hand, it is no surprise to discover that Frauenfelder was a writer before he was a DIYer, because he is a master storyteller.

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